A hotline has been set up for an people looking for loved ones possibly injured in the explosion. Here is the number: (254)202-1100.
The Texas Department of Public Safety estimates that 75-100 houses and businesses have been destroyed in a two-block radius of the plant. Up to 1,000 people are without power in the area.
At first, West EMS director Dr. George Smith estimated 60-70 people have been killed. Since that time, six firefighters, one police officer and two EMS workers have been confirmed dead by Smith in the explosion. Hundreds more are injured. Hospitals have been told to prepare for up to 200 patients..
According to Waco Police Sgt. Patrick Swanton, the death toll currently ranges anywhere from five to 15. Around 160 people have been reported injured.
The explosion rocked the West Fertilizer Co. at about 7:50 p.m. (8:50 p.m. ET). It's being treated as a crime scene until investigators determine whether it was an accident. "Nothing at this point indicates we have had criminal activity, but we are not ruling that out," said Sgt. William Patrick Swanton of the nearby Waco Police Department.
Swanton estimated the death toll as high as 15.
Patients were rushed to several hospitals. Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center reported five patients in intensive care -- two in critical condition, three in serious condition. At least 28 patients will be admitted, said hospital chief Glenn Robinson.
About half the community of 2,800 was evacuated, Muska said.
The White House said it is monitoring the situation through FEMA, which is in touch with state and local authorities.
'Like a nuclear bomb'
The blast shook houses 50 miles away and measured as a 2.1-magnitude seismic event, according to the United States Geological Survey.
"It was like a nuclear bomb went off," Muska said. "Big old mushroom cloud."
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