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Death toll rises in West explosion; officials report total casualties raised to 14

Death toll rises in West explosion; officials report total casualties raised to 14
April 19
23:41 2013
Emergency medical teams and volunteers tend to the wounds and assistance of West residents that lived in houses within the vicinity of the initial explosion at the West Football field on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.  Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

Emergency medical teams and volunteers tend to the wounds and assistance of West residents that lived in houses within the vicinity of the initial explosion at the West Football field on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Caroline Brewton
Editor-in-chief

The number of casualties in connection with the Wednesday night explosion in West has been updated to include two additional people, bringing the number of total confirmed casualties to 14.

Around 60 people are still unaccounted for, but local officials were quick to reassure those worried about friends or loved ones that their unaccounted-for status may be due to lapses in communication following the disaster.

McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said many people on the list probably lost their homes and have simply been hard to locate since the Wednesday evening accident.

“I think we’re going to eliminate 99 percent” of those listed, he said.

The search-and-rescue phase has largely been finished, but the investigation into the causes of the disaster will continue. At this time, there are no indications the disaster is anything more than an accident.

Donald Adair, the owner of the fertilizer plant, also issued a statement today expressing his grief for those affected in the accident.

“Our hearts go out to everyone who has suffered,” he said.

Adair said in the statement that one of the casualties was one of his own employees who responded to the fire as a volunteer firefighter.

“I was devastated to learn that we lost one of our employees in the explosion,” he said. “He bravely responded to the fire at the facility as a volunteer firefighter. I will never forget his bravery and his sacrifice, or that of his colleagues who rushed to the trouble.”

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jason Reyes said about 200 people were injured in the blast, which followed a fire at the West Fertilizer Co. that destroyed some buildings and severely damaged some others in in the Czech town of less than 3,000 people

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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