The confirmed death toll has risen in the explosion at the West Fertilizer Company north of Waco Wednesday, but not nearly as high as some officials had feared, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"It is with a heavy heart that I can report that 12 individuals have been recovered from the fertilizer plant explosion," State Trooper Jason Reyes told reporters this morning.
He said the numer of injured is now at 200, including some 160 who are hospitalized.
Reyes said 500 homes have been destroyed.
There had been fears that the death toll could rise to several dozen, and even though Reyes says some individuals remain missing, a death toll that high is not likely.
Most of those dead were first responders, including a Dallas Fire Department captain who lived in West and had been helping the firemen battle a fire at the plant. Several EMS techs, West VFD firefigthers, and two civilians who were helping fight the fire are known dead, as well as an elderly resident of the nursing home next door to the fertilizer plant.
Meanwhile, 1200 WOAI news reports that the plant in February informed officials of plans to store 270 tons of ammonium hitrate, the highly volitle substance which was used to blow up the Okalhoma City feeral building 18 years ago today.
It is not known whether the ammonium nitrate was in fact in the warehouse and was responsible for the explosion.
Rescue workers from as far away as San Antonio are in West searching through the still smoldering debris looking for victims. Governor Perry has declared the area a disaster area, and President Obama called the government on Thursday to officer the resources of FEMA and other federal agencies.
Attorney General Greg Abbott says he has a pair of handcuffs in his pocket ready for anybody who is found to be jacking up prices for motels, relief supplies, or anything else that is needed by the victims of the disaster.
Meanwhile, resident of West are vowing to rebuild. Homes and other buildings within six blocks of the fertilizer plant are generally totally destroyed. Officials say rebuilding will take 'years.'