DPS: 14 bodies recovered after fertilizer plant blast - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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DPS: 14 bodies recovered after fertilizer plant blast

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During a DPS press conference Friday morning, Trooper Jason Reyes told reporters that 12 bodies have been recovered following a massive explosion that leveled a fertilizer plant. That number was later upped to 14.

KLTV's Bethany Moore who is in West this morning says, Sgt. Reyes said that about 200 people were injured and 50 homes were destroyed in the explosion at facility Wednesday night in the small farming community of West, about 20 miles north of Waco.

The bodies were found in and around the plant area. Officials will not confirm if the bodies recovered were firefighters, emergency workers, plant workers or regular citizens.

Search and rescue crews have been sifting through the still-smoldering remains for survivors. That work continues Friday.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is working to try to determine the cause of the blast.

"The explosion happened in a highly populated neighborhood, it is a volatile situation because it being a fertilizer company, it has the component ammonia nitrate which is a volatile product," McLennan County Chief Deputy Sheriff Matt Cawthon said.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Thursday "it's way premature" to determine whether any criminal charges could be sought in relation to the deadly explosion.

Gov. Rick Perry declared McLennan County a disaster area during a news conference.

A litany of state and some federal agencies are helping the town of West, according to Perry. Everyone from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Texas Department of Transportation are helping the town of 2,600.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the force of the explosion through the air was greater than a 2.1 earthquake.

The fire is under control, but continued to smolder Friday. Another factor in the disaster is the potential for toxic fumes.

During a press conference Friday morning, Senator John Cornyn thanked first responders and said Texas is doing a good job handling this tragedy. Cornyn says he and Sen. Cruz are there to offer support to not only West, but America.

Cornyn and Cruz visited the blast site this morning. Cornyn said there were still 60 people unaccounted for.

Senator Cruz said he visited with those who have lost everything. He said amidst the tragedy there is story after story of heroism. He also said we need to allow time for a careful evaluation. We said we shouldn't rush to a conclusion, adding that it is a mistake to get ahead of the investigation.

For those suffering, Cruz said they are being lifted up in prayer.

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