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Explosion hits fertilizer plant in Texas, heavy casualties feared


13:13, April 18, 2013

HOUSTON, April 17 (Xinhua) -- A huge explosion occurred at a fertilizer plant Wednesday night in the U.S. state of Texas, likely causing heavy casualties, U.S. media reported.

The explosion happened around 7:50 p.m. local time (0050 GMT) at the plant in the Texas city of West, some 28 km north of the town of Waco, according to CNN.

West Mayor Tommy Muska told a news conference that although there was no official figures about the death toll, it was confirmed that at least four or five rescue men and firefighters are unaccounted for.

He said there was a fire at the West Fertilizer plant before the explosion.

D.L. Wilson, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that over 100 people were injured but he could not give the specific number.

Some 50 to 75 nearby houses were leveled or damaged and more than 130 people were being evacuated from a damaged nursing home near the plant, he added. It also prompted a widescale evacuation in the community of 2,600 people.

The spokesman could not confirm the media report that the death toll in the devastating blast had reached 60 to 70.

Earlier reports said a hospital in Waco has been told to anticipate 100 injured people coming from the fertilizer plant area.

After the blast, Texas Governor Rick Perry issued a statement saying his office had "mobilized state resources to help local authorities" deal with the incident.

The authority sent six medical helicopters for a rescue mission, and the cause of the explosion remained unknown so far. Firefighters said it was perhaps an anhydrous ammonia explosion.

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