The search and rescue efforts continue in West, Texas after a massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Company plant on Wednesday evening. The number of dead still remains unconfirmed, but as of now, the number seems to be around 35. This includes several first responders and firefighters. Around 200 people have been injured. In addition, it has been confirmed that 50 homes were destroyed in the explosion and the aftermath. One hundred and fifty buildings have been searched and cleared by search and rescue crews.
Because authorities are still combing through the wreckage in hopes of finding survivors, they will not release an official death toll as of this time. In addition, many bodies may still be within the explosion site, and therefore too difficult to reach. The mayor of West, Tommy Muska, stated that 35 to 40 people are unaccounted for, but in a press conference held Friday afternoon, Senator John Cornyn stated that 60 people remain unaccounted for.
Authorities explain that the remains of the fertilizer plant are still extremely volatile and dangerous and that they have to be careful not to put any more responders in danger. Ammonium nitrate remains at the scene and is highly explosive. Above 400 degrees, it can easily explode. The heat from the initial fire combined with the ammonium nitrate is thought to be the cause of the explosion, though no official cause has been released.
It is an especially difficult time for those who do not know what happened to their loved ones. Many that still await news about their friends and family have gathered at the West Community Center. These include families of firefighters who responded to the initial fire and those who lived in the small community.
The attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP send their deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones in this tragedy, and to those that have suffered injuries and losses themselves. We want to help in any way we can. Click here for more information about this event.