I know we have a huge Texas following here on HorseForum, and this was just such an awful thing to wake up too this morning, in liue of what's been going on in Boston and the JFK Library.
I'm hoping everyone here is okay, and sending out thoughts to those families affected.
THE death toll has been revised as a search is under way to find people trapped after an explosion from a fertiliser plant.
Already, an unknown girl has become the face of the West Fertilizer Plant disaster, after a video of her crying out "Dad, dad, I can't hear anything, please get me out of here", went viral across the world.
Police in Texas say between five and 15 people were killed in the blast that also injured more than 160 others, AP reports.
Sergeant Patrick Swanton, of Waco Police, said while the search "from house to house" for people trapped in buildings was continuing, the actual number of fatalities was unknown.
Sergeant Swanton said police were still pulling people out of the plant's surrounding buildings and he could not estimate how many people might still be trapped.
Earlier, a senior doctor said he had been told told by firefighters that up to 70 people had been killed and hundreds injured in the blast, which destroyed numerous buildings including a nursing home and large apartment block.
Prompted on this by reporters, who noted that officials were using an "abundance" of caution in giving figures, Sergeant Swanton said: "I cannot confirm that at all, I don't know who that doctor was, I have not heard that number."
However, he said that firefighters and a police officer remained "unaccounted for" after the explosion.
Sergeant Swanton said it was not clear if the blast was a criminal act.
"I heard that there was a helicopter on the scene that sustained some damage ... we are trying to confirm that, " he said.
Earlier, Trooper D.L Wilson confirmed there had been deaths but did not give an exact number, saying the toll could go up "by the minute".
The blast at the fertiliser plant, which came after a fire, devastated the town of West, north of Waco, destroying numerous buildings including a nursing home and a large apartment block of 50 units. Residents have been evacuated due to toxic fumes.
Firefighters have contained the blazes and emergency workers are now working throughout the night to search for people who may be trapped in the town's collapsed buildings.
9.51pm: Roughly 85 students - some from Baylor University, some from high school and McLennan Community College, among others - gathered for a midnight prayer vigil at Baylor’s Waco Hall, wacotrib.com reports.
9.20pm: West Mayor Tommy Muska has held a press conference and said we "ask for your prayers." He said between 50-60 homes damaged, according to WacoTrib.com reporter Kirsten Crow who attended the press conference,
8.07pm: Police in Texas say between five and 15 people were killed in the blast that also injured more than 160 others, AP reports.
7.21pm: Pope Francis has tweeted: "Please join me in praying for the victims of the explosion in Texas and their families."
6pm: West's Mayor Tommy Muska tells CNN there is "no indication this is anything but an accident".
5.40pm: The US Geological Survey says the explosion in West registered as a 2.1-magnitude event - even though nearest sensor is 40kms away.
5.30pm: A West city council member says a four-block area near the plant has been "totally decimated".
5pm: More areas in West could be evacuated if the wind changes, Sky News is reporting.
4.51pm: Country star Willie Nelson, who was born in the nearby town of Abbott, says he is praying for those affected by the devastating blast.
"West has been in my backyard all my life," he tweeted. "My heart is praying for the community that we call home."
4.40pm: The fertiliser plant that exploded in West Texas reported to the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented no risk of fire or explosion, documents show.
West Fertilizer Co. reported having as much as 24,494kg of anhydrous ammonia on hand in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals.
But the report, reviewed on Wednesday night by The Dallas Morning News, stated "no'' under fire or explosive risks. The worst possible scenario, the report said, would be a 10-minute release of ammonia gas that would kill or injure no one.
The second worst possibility projected was a leak from a broken hose used to transfer the product, again causing no injuries.
4.20pm: CNN reports that 156 victims have been admitted to three area hospitals following the fertiliser plant explosion in West, Texas.
3.15pm: Trooper D.L. Wilson of the Department of Public Safety said there was a "tremendous amount of injuries and we do have confirmed fatalities".
"(It was ) just like Iraq. Just like the Murrah building in Oklahoma City," he said.
The fire is still smouldering and toxic fumes have caused an area of up to 10 blocks to be evacuated around the plant.
"We cannot get firefighters in there," he said.
So far, all the known injured have been taken care of, he said.
"We're going to go back in and do another house by house search ... that is going to be going on all night.
3.05pm: Trooper D.L. Wilson says 50 to 75 houses have been destroyed in the West blast.
"We're worried about people right now, not property," he said.
The trooper told a media conference that 50 units in an apartment block had been destroyed but firefighters were unable to get to the scene due to fumes.
He did not give a death toll from the blast. "The number is not confirmed yet, it could go up by the minute," he said.
2.58pm: Fire officials fear that the number of casualties could rise as high as 60 to 70 dead, said Dr George Smith, the emergency management system director of the city.
"That's a really rough number, I'm getting that figure from firefighters, we don't know yet," he said.
"We have two EMS personnel that are dead for sure, and there may be three firefighters that are dead."
2.56pm: The mayor of West believes about 60 buildings have been levelled in the blast.
2.55pm: Hillcrest Medical Centre's CEO on the injured: "Many of these looked just like regular families: a mom, dad, children coming in together."
2.46pm: Police in Waco say the scene of the explosion is still "very hectic". Officers are trying to secure the surrounding neighbourhoods and evacuate the injured.
2.30pm: "Every house within about four blocks is blown apart," a witness has told the Waco Tribune.
2.20pm: West EMS Director Dr George Smith says as many as 60 or 70 people have died and at least 100 were injured in the fertilizer plant blast. A rescuer earlier said he knew of five deaths.
West Mayor Tommy Muska said at a news conference however, that he doesn't yet know how many people were hurt or killed in the blast explosion.
2.07PM: The Federal Aviation Administration has put a no-fly zone into effect 5km around West and below 3,000 feet.
The FAA said only emergency aircraft were permitted to fly in the area.
2PM: Pictures of the blast have been posted on social media with people sending their messages of support to the people of West.
1.52PM: Waco police said on Twitter the blast scene was devastating. "Surreal scene in West. Helicopters hanging over the city fire police ambulances everywhere."
1.43PM: Five firefighters and one police officer believed to be among the dead.
1.42PM: AT least 200 people are believed to have been injured in the blast, 40 critically, ABC news reports. Between 75-100 houses and businesses have reportedly been destroyed.
1.40PM: Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center CEO Glenn Robinson said the hospital had treated 61 patients so far, but there had been no fatalities at the hospital.
1.30PM: West EMS Director Dr George Smith told KWTX up to 70 people died and hundreds were injured in the explosion.
1.26PM: Texas Governor Rick Perry released a statement following the explosion.
“We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident. We have also mobilised state resources to help local authorities," he said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene.”
"We've got a lot of buildings on fire, we still have people trapped in an apartment building and possibly in a rest home," and emergency services operator said.
"We got reports of two kids on the second floor, about 50 foot from the north end," another emergency worker said. It is believed they were talking about the apartment building.
Several homes within two-blocks of the plant are also on fire.
"The fertiliser plant down here exploded" Jason Shelton, a clerk at the Czech Best Western Hotel, told the Dallas news.
“It was a small fire and then water got sprayed on the ammonia nitrate and it exploded just like the Oklahoma City bomb.
“There’s houses leveled that were right next to it. We've got people injured and possibly dead
“I live about a thousand feet from it and it blew my screen door off and my back windows.
The Waco Tribune reports several firefighters are among those critically injured in the blast, which occurred when they were trying to douse an earlier fire that had rekindled.
A radio dispatcher called for several ambulances to attend saying "we do have a lot of injured here".
Another dispatcher said people were still trapped in the fire saying "I need anybody and everybody you can send".
Plant Explosion Texas
It comes after a week where America has been on high alert after the Boston Marathon bombings which killed three people and wounded another 170.
Although there is no suggestion that the events are related, 'Fahrenheit 9/11' filmmaker and author Michael Moore has tweeted: “This is the anniversary week of the Columbine massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Virginia Tech massacre, the Bay of Pigs, and Waco. Fertiliser plant explosion near Waco Texas leaves 5 to 15 feared dead, hundreds injured as search continues | News.com.au