An explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant in a small town north of Waco, Texas, has killed an estimated five to 15 people and injured at least 170 persons. Evacuations in the area have been ordered, and officials are hoping that they have seen the worst of the damage.
The explosion and fire took place around 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, and reports state that there were nearby apartment units and a nursing home in the area, prompting officials to immediately begin searching for survivors. A local football field was transformed into a triage area, and all rescuers were at the ready to help anyone who needed it.
"We are not indicating that it is a crime, but we don't know," Sgt. William Patrick Swanton of the Waco Police Department told ABC. "What that means to us is that until we know that it is an industrial accident, we will work it as a crime scene. ATF [the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] is conducting the main investigation."
"Please join me in praying for the victims of the explosion in Texas and their families," Pope Francis tweeted.
"It's total chaos," West City Councilman Cheryl Marak told ABC News Radio. "There's ambulances and fire trucks and police cars from everywhere. With the explosions, the whole street lifted up. It was like a massive bomb went off. It demolished both my houses – my mother's and mine. I think everything around us is pretty much just gone," she added.
Firefighters and rescue squads worked through the night to find survivors and provide assistance in any way possible.
"You know other ingredients [are] at the facility, so we don't want that to explode again," State Trooper D.L. Wilson said. "So right now we can't get firefighters in there. We're worried about people right now, not property. We're going to go back in and do another house-to-house search and see if anybody else, victims, are in the houses. That's going to be going on all night."
Watch footage of the explosion HERE: