LM Otero/Associated Press
UPDATE 4/19/13 @ 9:55 a.m.
WEST, Texas (AP) -- A Texas law enforcement official says 12 bodies have been recovered following a massive explosion that leveled a fertilizer plant.
Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Jason Reyes said Friday that about 200 people were injured in the explosion at facility Wednesday night in the small farming community of West, about 20 miles north of Waco.
Search and rescue crews have been sifting through the still-smoldering remains for survivors. That work continues. The blast crumpled dozens of homes, an apartment building, a school and a nursing home.
Authorities say there's no indication that the blast was anything other than an industrial accident sparked by a fire. The company has been cited for apparently minor safety and permitting violations over the past decade.
Firefighters were already at the plant battling a fire when the explosion happened Wednesday night. It was so strong it could be felt from 45 miles away, and sent flames shooting high into the night sky, raining burning embers, shrapnel and debris.
The explosion has also leveled buildings for blocks in every direction. Al Vanek, a city council member, says a four-block area around the explosion "is totally decimated."
Some firefighters who had been battling the fire before the explosion are now unaccounted for.
The mayor of the town of West says up to six volunteer firefighters were at the scene when the explosion happened Wednesday night.
Authorities say an unknown number of people were killed in the blast and dozens of people were wounded. The explosion leveled blocks of homes and buildings in every direction.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigated West Fertilizer on June 20, 2006, after receiving a complaint June 9 of a strong ammonia smell. Agency records show that the person who lodged the complaint said the ammonia smell was "very bad last night" and lingered until after he or she went to bed.
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