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Texas fertilizer plant blast injures dozens

A fire preceded the explosion at the fertilizer factory.

Michael Ainsworth/Dallas Morning News

A fire preceded the explosion at the fertilizer factory.

WACO, Texas — A massive explosion at a fertilizer factory near Waco on Wednesday night injured dozens of people and killed an unknown number of others. The blast sent flames shooting high into the sky, leaving the factory a smoldering ruin and causing major damage to surrounding buildings.

The explosion at West Fertilizer in West, a town about 20 miles north of Waco, happened shortly before 8 p.m. and could be heard 45 miles away.

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The mayor of West, Tommy Muska, said he doesn’t yet know how many people were hurt or killed in the blast. Muska said at a news conference that there was a fire at the West Fertilizer plant before Wednesday night’s explosion.

‘‘We’ve got a lot of people who are hurt, and there’s a lot of people, I’m sure, who aren’t gonna be here tomorrow,’’ Muska said.

An official from a hospital in nearby Waco says at least 66 people were taken for treatment there, including 38 who were hurt seriously.

Governor Rick Perry said state officials were waiting for details about the extent of the damage.

Aerial footage showed fires still smoldering in the ruins of the factory and in several surrounding buildings, and people being treated for injuries on a football field, which had been turned into a staging area for emergency responders.

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