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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    60 dead and over 100 injured in Texas fertilizer plant blast

    60 dead and over 100 injured in Texas fertilizer plant blast
    CBS/AP/ April 17, 2013, 11:48 PM

    Scene from an explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas on April 17, 2013. / CBS News

    Updated 11:48 PM ET
    WACO, Texas An explosion Wednesday night at a fertilizer plant near Waco sent flames shooting high into the night sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin, causing major damage to nearby buildings and injuring numerous people.
    The blast at the plant in West, a community north of Waco, happened shortly before 8 p.m. and could be heard as far away as Waxahachie, 45 miles north of West.
    Dr. George Smith the head of West, Texas EMS confirms that there at least 60 dead and over 100 injured, CBS News has learned
    Debby Marak told The Associated Press that when she finished teaching her religion class Wednesday night, she noticed a lot of smoke coming from the area across town near the plant, which is near a nursing home. She said she drove over to see what was happening, and that when she got out of her car two boys ran toward her screaming that the authorities told them to leave because the plant was going to explode. She said she drove about a block before the blast happened.

    CBS Dallas Live Stream "It was like being in a tornado," the 58-year-old said by phone. "Stuff was flying everywhere. It blew out my windshield."
    "It was like the whole earth shook."
    She drove 10 blocks and called her husband and asked him to come get her. When they got to their home about 2 miles south of town, her husband told her what he'd seen: a huge fireball that rose like "a mushroom cloud."
    More than two hours after the blast, there were still fires smoldering in what was left of the plant and others burning in nearby buildings. In aerial footage from Dallas' NBC affiliate, WDFW, dozens of emergency vehicles could be seen amassed at the scene. Entry into West was slow-going, as the roads were jammed with emergency vehicles rushing in to help out.
    An elderly person is assisted at a staging area at a local school stadium following an explosion at a fertilizer plant Wednesday, April 17, 2013, in West, Texas. An explosion at a fertilizer plant near Waco caused numerous injuries and sent flames shooting high into the night sky on Wednesday.
    / AP Photo/ Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte
    Authorities set up a staging area on the local high school's football field, which was lit up with floodlights. Ambulances and several dozen injured people could be seen being taken away or seated in wheelchairs as they are treated and await transport.
    Department of Public Safety troopers were using their squad cars to transport those injured by the blast and fire at the plant in West, a community north of Waco, Gayle Scarbrough, a spokeswoman for the department's Waco office, told CBS affiliate KWTX Waco. She said six helicopters were also en route to help out.
    Reportedly several buildings were destroyed, according to KWTX. There are also reports of people trapped in a nursing home and in an apartment building.
    Glenn A. Robinson, the chief executive of Hillcrest Baptist Medical Center in Waco, told CNN that his hospital had received more 40 more people for treatment, both by ambulance and private vehicle. He said the injuries included blast injuries, orthopedic injuries, large wounds and a lot of lacerations and cuts. The hospital has set up a hotline for families of the victims to get information, he said.
    Robinson did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press.
    American Red Cross crews from across Texas were being sent to the site, the organization said. Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster said the group was working with emergency management officials in West to find a safe shelter for residents displaced from their homes. She said teams from Austin to Dallas and elsewhere are being sent to the community north of Waco.
    A West Fire Department dispatcher said any casualties would be transported to hospitals in Waco, which is about 90 miles north of Austin.
    The explosion knocked out power to many area customers and could be heard and felt for miles around.
    Brad Smith, who lives 45 miles north of West in Waxahachie, told the station that he and his wife heard what sounded like a thunderclap.
    Lydia Zimmerman, told KWTX that she, her husband and daughter were in their garden in Bynum, 13 miles from West, when they heard multiple blasts.
    "It sounded like three bombs going off very close to us," she said.
    Tonya Harris of Groesbeck said she heard the explosion. "My husband and l were cleaning up the kitchen after supper," she said in an email, "and heard what we thought was someone running into our house. It shook our windows and doors. We immediately ran outside looking for the worst."
    In 2001, an explosion at a chemical plant killed 31 people and injured more than 2,000 in Toulouse, France. The blast occurred in a hangar containing 300 tons of ammonium nitrate, which can be used for both fertilizer and explosives. The explosion came 10 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., and raised fears at the time it was linked. A 2006 report blamed the blast on negligence.
     
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57580172/texas-fertilizer-plant-blast-injures-many/
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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Sen. Cornyn: 60 still unaccounted for in Texas blast

    Rick Jervis and Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY 1:30 p.m. EDT April 19, 2013

    Officials say 12 bodies have been recovered, many of whom were believed to be first responders.


    Firefighters search April 18 for survivors and victims in the wreckage of an apartment building destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, the previous day.(Photo: L.M. Otero, AP)
    Story Highlights


    • Emergency teams are combing through mountains of debris in a four-block area
    • Explosion and fireball destroyed homes, businesses, a school and nursing home
    • West Fertilizer was listed as having two chemical violations and one registration violation



    WEST, Texas The bodies of 12 people were recovered following a massive fertilizer plant explosion, but Sen. John Cornyn told reporters Friday that 60 residents were still unaccounted for in the blast.
    The Texas Republican's statement came at a mid-day briefing.
    The Wednesday night explosion left surrounding neighborhoods in ruins and injured about 200, Texas authorities said Friday.
    Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jason Reyes said it was "with a heavy heart" that he confirmed 12 bodies had been pulled from the area of the plant explosion.
    Officials said that at least 150 homes had been destroyed. They have searched all but 25 homes for bodies and expect to finish the task Friday morning. At least three rescue trucks and one fire truck were also destroyed, an indication of how many firefighters had rushed to the scene Wednesday to fight the fire that was burning in the fertilizer facility.
    Andrea Jones, 40, lived in the apartment building destroyed by the blast. She'd been standing outside talking on her cellphone with her father and describing the fire to him when the explosion came. "It was the most horrible thing I've ever been through in my entire life," she said. "It felt like a war zone."
    She ran away from the devastated building with just the clothes on her back. A "guardian angel" in a black truck sped by, threw open her door and shouted "Get in!" and they raced away from the scene.
    Like many who lost homes she is staying in the Czech Inn, a local hotel, while she waits for word on when they can go back into their neighborhood. "I don't think I can go back into our apartment," she said. "I'm going to have to send my dad in. I'd just get too emotional. It was all too close."
    Bill and Polly Killough had just sat down to watch TV when a powerful blast roared through their living room, blowing open the front door, bursting windows and collapsing the roof on top of them.
    Figuring it must be a tornado, Polly, 64, and her husband clawed their way out of the debris. But looking around, all she could see was devastation. What she saw resembled a war zone.
    "Now I know what soldiers go through," she said. "In an instant just total destruction."
    Federal and state investigators were awaiting clearance to enter the blast area to search for clues to the cause of both the initial fire and explosions. "It's still too hot to get in there," Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives spokeswoman Franceska Perot said. There was no indication of foul play.
    Firefighters search April 18 for survivors and victims in the wreckage of an apartment building destroyed by an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, the previous day. L.M. Otero, AP
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    Firefighters check a room. L.M. Otero, AP
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    A firefighters searches an apartment complex in West, Texas. A massive explosion April 17 at the West Fertilizer Co. killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160, officials said. LM Otero, AP
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    Firefighters search through debris. L.M. Otero, AP
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    Firefighters search for survivors and victims. The explosion leveled a four-block area. L.M. Otero, AP
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    The apartment building was destroyed in the explosion. L.M. Otero, AP
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    Firefighters search a destroyed apartment complex. The explosion occurred as firefighters were battling a blaze at the nearby fertilizer plant. L.M. Otero, AP
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    Firefighters search the wreckage of an apartment complex. L.M. Otero, AP
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    The remains of the the West Fertilizer Co. plant smolders in the rain. Smiley N. Pool, Houston Chronicle, via AP
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    Debris from a destroyed fertilizer plant is scattered around a huge blast crater. L.M. Otero, AP
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    A firefighter stands on a train track as he looks at the wreckage of a fertilizer plant. L.M. Otero, AP
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    Firefighters inspect the wreckage of a fertilizer plant. L.M. Otero, AP
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    Firefighter conduct a search and rescue operation in the blast zone. L.M. Otero, AP
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    Firefighters check a destroyed apartment complex after a fire at a fertilizer plant triggered an explosion on April 17 in West, Texas. The massive blast shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake and leveled a four-block area around the facility. L.M. Otero, AP
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    Nurses at Hillcrest Baptist Medical Hospital in Waco treat a man injured when the West fertilizer plant exploded. Jerry Larson, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    A victim is wheeled into Hillcrest Baptist Medical Hospital. Jerry Larson, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    A fire burns in an apartment complex. L.M. Otero, AP
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    Emergency workers battle a blaze at a home. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    People help an injured person. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    People injured by the blast are treated at the high school football field. WFFA-TV via AP
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    Aid workers help a person at the high school stadium. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    Rescue personnel work near a damaged apartment complex. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    A fire burns at the fertilizer plant after an explosion. L.M. Otero, AP
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    A law enformcement officer runs a checkpoint a half a mile from the West Fertilizer Co. Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images
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    Debris burn after the explosion. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    A smoldering fireplace is all that remains of a home that was leveled by the explosion. L.M. Otero, AP
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    A fire burns at the plant. Michael Ainsworth, AP
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    An emergency worker walks through an apartment building damaged by an explosion. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    In this Instagram photo provided by Andy Bartee, a plume of smoke rises from a fertilizer plant fire in West, Texas. Andy Bartee via AP
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    Debris from a storage shed covers a pickup truck after a fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant. Michael Ainsworth, AP
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    Emergency workers evacuate people from a nursing home. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    A nursing home was damaged by the blast. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    Smoke fills the air after a fertilizer plant exploded. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    A firefighter searches a nursing home. Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, via AP
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    With destruction so vast, it was well into Thursday before officials could comprehend and then describe the scope of the tragedy. It arrived on a dark week in America, one in which terror struck Boston, poison-laced letters rattled Washington, and Americans pause to recall the anniversaries of the Virginia Tech massacre and Oklahoma City bombing.
    Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who toured the ravaged town, said railroad tracks to the west of the blast site were fused together from the unimaginable heat. He also saw a leveled playground and an "utterly destroyed" apartment building.
    Emergency teams were combing through mountains of debris in a devastated four-block area in hopes of finding survivors after the explosion and fireball engulfed and destroyed homes, businesses, a school and nursing home.
    Those killed include members of the West Volunteer Fire Department who were trying to put out the initial blaze, EMS workers and an off-duty Dallas firefighter, the mayor said.
    "It's just a tragic, tragic incident," Muska said.
    The Dallas Fire-Rescue department said Capt. Kenny Harris, who was at his home in West and joined local volunteer firefighters in battling the blaze at West Fertilizer Co., was killed. Harris, 52, was the married father of three grown sons.
    The rest of the fatalities include residents who were in nearby homes when the explosion ripped through town, leveling homes and devastating neighborhoods, Muska said.
    Texas Gov. Rick Perry, declaring the town a disaster area, said the earthquake-like explosion will likely affect every citizen of this tightly knit community of some 2,500 people located just off Interstate 35. He said President Obama called him from Air Force One en route to Boston on Thursday to offer federal assistance.
    Emergency teams had responded to a fire call at the plant at 7:29 p.m. The explosion erupted 24 minutes later, as the firefighters, police and paramedics were battling the blaze and attempting to evacuate nearby residents. The West Rest Haven nursing home, which was heavily damaged, removed 133 residents, many hobbled or in wheelchairs.
    POWERFUL AS OKLAHOMA CITY
    West has been a farming hub for the region since its founding in 1892 and by the 1920s was dominated by Czech immigrants. Many of their descendants continue to work the farms and run the businesses that service them.
    Czech can still be heard spoken in town, the West Chamber of Commerce points out on its website. And, in a bit of civic boosterism, it describes West as "the perfect blend of small-town hospitality and large city progressiveness."
    Its destruction came from a blast so powerful it could be heard 45 miles away and its towering cloud of dark smoke was visible far across the rural landscape.
    Texas Trooper D.L. Wilson said the damage was comparable to the destruction caused by the bomb blast that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City exactly 18 years ago Friday.
    For Texans, it recalled the nation's worst industrial disaster at Texas City, near Galveston, when a series of explosions rocked the town's large waterfront petrochemical complex in 1947, killing at least 576 people and injuring 5,000. That blast, like this one, was an ammonium nitrate fertilizer explosion, in that case aboard a French freighter.
    FERTILIZER DANGER ZONE
    Sgt. Patrick Swanton, Waco Police spokesman, was one of the first on the scene. As he drove into West with a contingent of officers, he was met with a nightmarish landscape: charred homes with windows and doors blown out; cars and buildings still ablaze; medical helicopters circling overhead; some homes completely flattened.
    "I've been policing for 32 years and seen some pretty rough stuff in that time," Swanton said. "I've never seen anything of this magnitude."
    While the cause of the blast is not clear, ammonium nitrate used in many such farm applications is explosive and often used to build deadly roadside bombs in Afghanistan. Swanton said there were no indications the blast was anything other than an industrial accident.
    "It is a very volatile material," says David Small, spokesman for the Pentagon's task force to counter improvised explosive devices, called IEDs. In Afghanistan, 80% of the roadside bombs that target U.S. and NATO troops are created from homemade explosives, and most of them are from ammonium nitrate, Small said.
    Kathy Mathers, of the Fertilizer Institute, said she had never seen an explosion and fire of this magnitude in her 23 years in the industry. Fertilizer is made from nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, and she notes that the manufacturing of nitrogen carries great safety concerns.
    THE SEARCH FOR SURVIVORS
    Rescue workers were going still through the rubble Friday, searching home by home and room by room in hopes of finding more survivors.
    "They want to make sure they don't miss anyone," Swanton said.
    The injured were taken by ambulance, car and helicopter to trauma centers and hospitals in Waco, Temple and Dallas. The Red Cross set up an emergency shelter 15 miles away. But only 19 people stayed there Wednesday night, said Anita Foster, a Red Cross coordinator.
    "Most people here stayed with friends or relatives," she said. "The whole town's pulled together."
    Attorney Terrence Welch of Richardson, Texas, an expert on land-use law in the state, says it's not surprising that homes and schools would be located near industrial facilities in a small town such as West, which grew up around railroad tracks.
    "In a lot of small towns, you'll find houses not far from these types of facilities," he says. "Even though cities have zoning powers, the houses have been there sometimes long before cities adopted zoning ordinances."
    Jerry Hagins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Insurance, which oversees the State Fire Marshal's Office, says it's up to local fire authorities to conduct inspections of such facilities. His office is assisting federal ATF agents in investigating the cause of the fire and explosions.
    Feed and fertilizer distributors such as West Fertilizer are registered with the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service, which also inspects them. West a locally owned, family operation with about 10 employees is one of 592 such establishments registered with the agency, says Tim Herrman, the Texas State Chemist who directs the service. It lists 14 investigators statewide on its website.
    "It's a complex facility," he says of West Fertilizer. "Each of the different types of structures could fall under a different regulatory authority. It has fertilizer and grain. And they're also licensed as a feed establishment because of the grain tanks."
    According to the service's 2012 annual report on fertilizer distributors, West Fertilizer had two chemical violations and one registration violation.
    "We are in the firms multiple times in a year. We were in this firm just recently," says Herrman, who declined to say when it was last inspected.
    The Associated Press cited records showing the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration fined West Fertilizer $10,000 last summer for safety violations that included planning to transport anhydrous ammonia without a security plan. An inspector also found the plant's ammonia tanks weren't properly labeled.
    The government accepted $5,250 after the company took what it described as corrective actions, the records show. It is not unusual for companies to negotiate lower fines with regulators.
    In a risk-management plan filed with the Environmental Protection Agency about a year earlier, the company said it was not handling flammable materials and did not have sprinklers, water-deluge systems, blast walls, fire walls or other safety mechanisms in place at the plant.
    'PLEASE GET OUT OF HERE'
    The fireball was captured in cellphone videos seen widely a day after the blast.
    In one video, posted on YouTube, a young girl, Khloey Hurtt, is recording the fire from about 300 yards away while sitting in a truck with her father, Derrick. The force of the blast knocks them both backward.
    Khloey can be heard pleading with her father, "Please get out of here, please get out of here, Dad, please get out of here. I can't hear anything."
    West Mayor Pro-Tem Stevie Vanek, a volunteer firefighter, was in a truck en route to fight the blaze when the explosion struck, rattling his vehicle. The volunteer firefighters pushed ahead, encountering vast and thorough destruction that looked "like a tornado" struck, Vanek said. "Horrendous. You can't imagine the force of that blast."
    Despite the destruction, West will come back, Vanek said.
    "We have a long row to hoe," he said. "But we will rebuild."


    Aerial video shows the extent of the destruction in West, Texas after a massive explosion yesterday at a fertilizer plant. (April 1

    Contributing: William Welch in Los Angeles; Sharon Jayson in Austin; Chuck Raasch in McLean, Va.; Jim Michaels in Washington; the Associated Press.
     
     
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/19/west-texas-fertilizer-blast/2095817/
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    Prayers for these folks.

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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    NO AMNESTY

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    Arson probe launched as officials say deadly fertilizer plant blast was criminal

    Published May 11, 2016 FoxNews.com

    NOW PLAYINGOfficials: 2013 fertilizer plant explosion was criminal act
    Officials launched a hunt Wednesday for possible criminal suspects in the 2013 explosion that killed 15 people at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, after announcing the fire that triggered the blast was arson.
    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced a $50,000 reward for information. Officials said they had made no arrests.

    The fire at the West Fertilizer Co. facility in April 2013 caused ammonium nitrate to ignite, triggering a massive explosion that killed 15, injured hundreds more and left part of the small town in ruins.


    ATF officials in Houston said they conducted more than 400 interviews and that the investigation had cost some $2 million dollars.


    "We have eliminated all reasonable accidental and natural causes," ATF Special agent Robert Elder said. "This was a criminal act."


    Inspectors previously said three possible scenarios caused the fire: faulty electrical wiring, a short circuit in a golf cart stored at the plant, or arson.


    In addition, federal regulators earlier issued a report that found inadequate emergency response coordination and training and careless storage of potentially explosive materials contributed to the blast. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board adopted recommendations that federal regulators set higher standards for safe handling and storage of fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate.


    Federal regulators say the way the fertilizer was stored, with combustible materials nearby, and the lack of ventilation were contributing factors to the detonation. But they also cited a failure to conduct safety inspections of the plant, shortcomings in emergency response such as with hazmat training, and poor land planning that allowed development to sprout around the plant over the years.

    Among those killed in the explosion were 12 emergency personnel, primarily ones with the West Volunteer Fire Department who responded to the initial blaze.


    The Chemical Safety Board report approved by the board in January said the response to the fire was flawed for various reasons, including for not establishing an incident command center and a lack of understanding about the possibility of a detonation.


    The report also noted that Texas had 80 plants that stored more than 5 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizer, and that 19 plants storing fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate operated within a half-mile of a school, hospital or nursing home.


    The West plant "was about 550 feet from the closest school, which sustained catastrophic damage as a result of the explosion, which could have resulted in additional loss of life had the school been in session at the time," the report noted.


    The April 2013 explosion caused about $100 million in property damage, according to the Texas Department of Insurance, and insurance-related losses were approximately $230 million.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/05/11...cials-say.html

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