UPDATED: The Latest From West
In a morning press conference, a Texas Department of Public Safety representative confirmed twelve deaths and an estimated two hundred injuries. Rescue crews are continuing to search the impacted area for casualties and survivors.
On Thursday, Gov. Rick Perry declared McLennan County a disaster area and asked for a federal emergency declaration. Perry said that President Obama had called him from Air Force One to offer federal support. Approximately fifty homes are believed to have been destroyed. Other buildings – including downtown businesses, a nursing home, and a middle school – were also damaged.
During the course of the investigation, questions have surfaced about the West Fertilizer Co. plant. Reportedly, the plant had not been inspected since 2006, when an air quality complaint was made. According to the Houston Chronicle, the complaint was one of a series dating back to 1987.
Meanwhile, the small community has seen an outpouring of support. Although blood supplies are keeping up with the demand, several entities are collecting supplies and donations for the battered town. Later today, Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are expected to survey the damage.
UPDATE: Authorities have confirmed another two deaths in the blast, raising the toll to fourteen fatalities. As of late Friday afternoon, twenty-five buildings had not been searched for survivors. The names of four victims have also been released – Dallas Fire Department captain Kenny Harris, Navarro Mills firefighter Calvin Perry, and Abbott firefighters Cyrus Reed and Jerry Chapman.