Huge Explosion at Fertilizer Plant Near Waco, TX; Dozens Reported Dead, as Many as 200 or More Injured

UPDATE 10:30pm PT: Randy Lee Loftis at Dallas Morning News reports...

The fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night 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 54,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia on hand in an emergency planning report required of facilities that use toxic or hazardous chemicals.

But the report, reviewed 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.

Loftis adds via Twitter: "OSHA online records show no federal inspections of #West Fertilizer Co. in the past 5 yrs."

UPDATE 10:10pm PT: Texas Dept. of Public Safety spokesperson holds short press conference: "Tremendous amount of injuries...There are confirmed fatalities. Number not confirmed yet ... Devastation like Iraq or Oklahoma City ... 50-75 houses and apartments destroyed... Nursing home w/ 130 residents was in path of fire ... Wish I could tell you more." A reporter asks for a death toll number, asks the spokesman to "confirm 60-70" number. He says he "cannot confirm that number."

UPDATE 9:44pm PT: Dallas NBC affiliates live coverage cannot confirm death toll reported by Waco's KWTX below, but says 200+ injured, "at least 40 critically" at this moment.

UPDATE 8:59pm PT: Really hoping local media has it wrong... Waco's KWTX is now reporting: "West EMS Director Dr. George Smith says as many as 60 or 70 people died and hundreds were injured Wednesday night in a fertilizer plant explosion in West."

KHOU 11 News Houston is reporting "5 firefighters & 1 police officer" among the dead. They add: "Hundreds of others are wounded in the town with a population of about 2,800."

Amazing video of blast added to top: [More UPDATES at bottom of article]...

UPDATE 9:15pm PT:

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Like we needed more news today...fake or otherwise. Unfortunately (see photos and seismograph chart below), this one is not fake. From Reuters tonight...

WACO (April 17, 2013)--Emergency crews from throughout Central Texas responded Wednesday night after a major explosion at a burning fertilizer plant in West north of Waco.

West firefighters were dispatched to the plant earlier in the evening after an earlier fire rekindled.
Numerous injuries were reported and multiple ambulances were requested.

Several buildings were reported destroyed and a nearby nursing home was damaged.

There were reports that people were trapped in the nursing home and in an apartment building.

Scanner traffic indicated that some residents of both the nursing home and apartment building were severely injured.

Children are among the victims, according to reports from the scene.
Fire crews from virtually every community in the area headed to the scene.
A woman who was passing through West on Interstate 35 at the time of the explosion said she and her boyfriend saw a fireball 100-feet wide shoot into the air.
Gulf war veteran Paul L. Manigrasso felt the blast in Waxahachie.

â€Å“Based on my Naval experience...we knew immediately what it was, but cannot believe it occurred 40 miles away,â€Â he said.

The photos tweeted below are pretty amazing. [ALSO UPDATES NOW ADDED]...

* * *

UPDATE 8:07pm PT: Short video of the fire after the explosion: "Within four blocks of the plant itself...everyone of those homes have been torn apart"...

UPDATE 8:18pm PT: Waco's KWTX now reporting 5 people dead, at least 60 being treated at local hospitals, crews pulled back for fear of second explosion.

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