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Dozens hurt in fatal Texas fertilizer plant blast

Emergency workers assist an elderly person at a staging area at a local school stadium Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant near Waco sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin, causing major damage at nearby buildings and injuring numerous people. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)

Emergency workers assist an elderly person at a staging area at a local school stadium Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant near Waco sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin, causing major damage at nearby buildings and injuring numerous people. (AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)

WEST, Texas (AP) — A massive explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco on Wednesday injured dozens of people and killed an unknown number of others, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin and leveling buildings for blocks in every direction.

The explosion at West Fertilizer in downtown West, a community about 20 miles north of Waco, happened around 7 p.m. and could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles to the north. It sent flames shooting high into the night sky and rained burning embers, shrapnel and debris down on shocked and frightened residents.

A member of the city council, Al Vanek, said a four-block area around the explosion was “totally decimated.” Other witnesses compared the scene to that of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and authorities said the plant made materials similar to that used to fuel the bomb that tore apart that city’s Murrah Federal Building.

Although authorities said it will be some time before they know the full extent of the loss of life, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman D.L. Wilson said just after midnight that an unknown number of people had died and more than 100 were injured.

West Mayor Tommy Muska told reporters that his city of about 2,800 residents needs “your prayers.” A search for survivors continued throughout the night, as emergency workers went house to house and business to business looking for people trapped in the rubble.

Click here to read more from AP

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