CNN – The search for victims is underway in a small Texas town that was leveled in a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant.
Emergency crews were first called to a fire at the fertilizer plant in West, a town north of Waco last night. At around 8:50 p.m. E.T., a massive explosion occurred killing up to 15 people injuring 160 more.
Witnesses describe seeing a 100 foot wide ball of flames. Many first responders are still missing.
The blast leveled buildings and started fires for blocks in all directions. Officials were forced to evacuate much of the town and the FAA has set up a flight restriction over West.
“There are a lot of people that got hurt,” West Mayor Tommy Muska forewarned Wednesday night. “There are a lot of people that will not be here tomorrow.”
The blast was felt more than 50 miles away and measured in at a 2.1-magnitude earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey.
“It was a like a nuclear bomb went off,” Muska said. “Big old mushroom cloud.”
City officials believe the number of casualties could rise as high as 60 to 70 dead
“(It’s) massive, just like Iraq. Just like the Murrah (Federal) Building in Oklahoma City,” said D.L. Wilson of the Texas public safety department.
The exact cause of the explosion at the West fertilizer plant was not immediately known.
West is a community of about 2,800 people around 75 miles south of Dallas.