Obama: Prayers for residents of West
April 19, 2013 at 12:01 a.m.
Updated April 18, 2013 at 11:19 p.m.
Obama: Prayers for residents of West
WEST (AP) - President Barack Obama says residents of a small Texas town have "the support of the American people" after a fatal fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant.
In a statement Thursday, Obama says he's praying for the tight-knit community of West and thanked first responders who worked through the night to extinguish the flames and treat the wounded.
Authorities say Wednesday's blast killed between five and 15 people and injured more than 160 others.
Obama says his administration is in close contact with authorities on the ground in the farming community as the search-and-rescue operations continue.
Czech ambassador to visit scene of plant explosion
WEST - The Czech ambassador to the United States is traveling to the town devastated by the fertilizer plant explosion that's killed as many as 15 people and injured more than 160.
Ambassador Petr Gandalovic is scheduled to arrive Thursday in West, which has an honorary consulate in recognition of the significant number of residents in the area with Czech heritage.
Martin Pizinger, spokesman for the Czech embassy in Washington, says Gandalovic "would like to support the community in their time of sadness." Pizinger says the ambassador intends to personally express the support of the Czech Republic.
Gandalovic, ambassador since 2011, has visited West before.
Pizinger says the explosion has dominated headlines in the Czech Republic.
ATF sends team to plant explosion site
WEST - The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is sending a national response team to the site of a massive fertilizer plant explosion.
ATF spokeswoman Franceska Perot said Thursday that agency specialists were on their way to West, where a fertilizer plant exploded Wednesday night. Police said Thursday that they believed five to 15 people to be dead, with more than 160 hurt.
The team includes fire investigators, explosives experts, chemists and canine units.
Waco Police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton says police are treating the explosion site as a crime scene strictly out of caution.
Perot says the site is still too hot to investigate, as recovery is ongoing. She says the ATF team should be in place by Thursday afternoon.
T-storms, temps falling at plant explosion site
WEST (AP) - A weather front is bringing cooler temperatures and thunderstorms into West, where authorities are still searching for survivors of a massive fertilizer plant explosion.
The National Weather Service in Fort Worth says thunderstorms are expected to affect West until about 9 a.m., though lightning should become less frequent gradually.
Temperatures are dropping into the low 50s.
A line of storms was affecting much of North and Central Texas along Interstate 35 Thursday morning. NWS issued a flood advisory until 8 a.m. for Dallas County, which was being hit by thunderstorms.
Pope tweets prayers for Texas plant explosion victims
WEST - The pope is using his Twitter account to ask followers to pray for victims of a fatal fertilizer plant explosion in a small Texas town.
In a message posted Thursday morning, Pope Francis said: "Please join me in praying for the victims of the explosion in Texas and their families."
The newly installed pontiff's Twitter page shows he's posted 18 tweets in the past month.
Authorities say a massive fire and explosion at a downtown fertilizer plant in West killed as many as 15 people Wednesday evening and injured more than 160 others. Several firefighters are still missing.
Nelson to hold benefit for Texas blast victims
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Willie Nelson said Thursday that he will turn an upcoming Texas concert into a benefit for victims of the explosion at a fertilizer plant not far from where he grew up.
The country music icon still has a home in Abbott, about five miles north of West, which was rocked by the explosion Wednesday night that left an unknown number of people dead and more than 160 hurt. He remembers riding his bike the short distance between the towns and still has many friends and family there.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of West," Nelson said in an interview before taping a CMT Crossroads special in Nashville. "There are a lot of our friends and loved ones and neighbors down there. We talked to some of them, and some of them made it out OK, and some of them didn't. But they're strong, and they'll be back. It's one of those things you don't get over. But you will get through it."
The concert is scheduled for April 28 in Austin.
When not on the road touring, Nelson has lived in Austin since 1971. The concert was scheduled as an 80th birthday celebration but now will serve a dual purpose.