Authorities search for survivors of deadly Texas blast - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Authorities search for survivors of deadly Texas blast

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West, Texas - As many as 15 residents of a small East Texas town lost their lives in a massive explosion Wednesday evening.

More than 160 residents are being treated for injuries they sustained during a blast in the town of West, which has a population of around 2,800 and is just 18 miles north of Waco.

The town's fire department says they initially responded to a fire at West Fertilizer around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

A massive blast followed, which could be felt up to 50 miles away.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the force was so powerful it measured as a 2.1 magnitude seismic event.

The entire town has been evacuated due to the lingering risks associated with the anhydrous ammonia in the area, including 133 people from a nearby nursing home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, anhydrous ammonia is a pungent gas with suffocating fumes.

When exposed to humans, it can cause problems ranging from burning of the eyes, nose and throat to more severe symptoms like chemical burns to the lungs, and even death.

About 20 members of the Texas National Guard are on scene monitoring the air quality near the blast.

Victims are being treated at about a half-dozen sites, including a nearby football field set up as a staging area for first responders.

Injuries include blast injuries, orthopedic injuries, large wounds and a lot of lacerations and cuts.

Emergency responders continue going door to door to rescue residents trapped in their homes.

Officials say there is no initial indication that the blast was anything but an industrial accident, although agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are on the scene investigating the explosion.

The full extent of damages is unknown at this time but DPS officials say a 50-unit apartment complex was destroyed, and between 50 and 75 houses sustained damage.

A nearby nursing home, as well as a school, was also destroyed

Hundreds of units of blood are being sent to help families after the explosion near Waco.

Carter Blood Care in Waco sent 500 units to the town of West.

Austin sent 200 units of blood for those in need.

Our area's Coffee Memorial Blood Center has reached out to the town and is standing by in case assistance is needed.