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Storm could hamper recovery efforts at Texas fertilizer plant

Staff writers
April 18, 2013 — A massive, deadly blast at a fertilizer plant in Texas has forced hundreds to evacuate. Crews say weather could hamper recovery efforts Thursday.

The USGS says the blast measured as a 2.1 magnitude seismic event
The USGS says the blast measured as a 2.1 magnitude seismic event

Texas authorities are assessing the devastation following a deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant on Wednesday.

The blast, which hit the small farming community of West, was so strong that it measured as a magnitude 2.1 earthquake. 

Authorities say between 5 and 15 people were killed and more than 160 have been injured. 

Homes and businesses were flattened in a five block radius and some residents describe it 'like a nuclear bomb.' 

"We drove to see the fire and right when we turned the corner, about four or five blocks, I guess, the explosion occurred," said resident Jill Jenkins. "It was bad. It was very loud. It was like a bomb went off, and you still weren't really sure what exactly it was."

"I thought it was lightning at first," another resident said. "Because there was a big flash and it sounded like thunder, but when I realized the roof caved in, I thought that can't be lightning."

Homes and businesses flattened in the blast
Homes and businesses flattened in the blast

Crews are combing through rumble and the Texas National Guard has sent nearly two dozen troops to the site to monitor air quality.

Forecasters say a storm system heading into the area on Thursday could hamper recovery efforts. 

Wind gusts up to 60 km/h are forecast through the afternoon hours, which is a big concern for firefighters working to contain the flames.

Lightning and hail could also become problematic, especially for those left without a home. 

The massive blast forced the evacuation of about half of the town of about 2,800 people. 

Officials continue to investigate the cause. 

With files from CNN

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