The late-night West Texas explosion at a fertilizer plant was “like a nuclear bomb,” witnesses report, but investigators thus far say no criminal activity has been pinpointed as the cause of the huge blast.
As law enforcement pieces through the Texas explosion cite to determine what happened, local authorities say that the investigation is currently being handled by the ATF until criminality can be ruled out.
Patrick Swanton of the Waco Police Department spoke to the media, saying the number of victims who perished is currently a “rough estimate.”
Swanton confirmed the Texas explosion site is being treated as a crime scene until investigators learned more, emphasizing that the classification did not mean any indicators of intent were present — simply, law enforcement was cautiously treating the situation:
“We are not indicating that it is a crime but we don’t know … What that means to us is that until we know that it is an industrial accident we will work it as a crime scene. ATF [the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] is conducting the main investigation.”
The seismic impact of the Texas explosion was significant. The U.S. Geological Survey later reported the blast registered at a magnitude of 2.1 on the Richter scale:
Texas fertilizer plant explosion registered as a 2.1 magnitude seismic event, USGS says. on.cnn.com/YYcRnT
— Jake Carpenter (@jakeacarpenter) April 18, 2013
In the wake of the Texas explosion, investigators are going door to door, and those on the ground in West have described the blast as “tornadic,” seemingly affecting some homes severely while leaving others untouched in its wake.
At current, the number killed in the blast has been estimated at five to 15 individuals, several of whom are believed to have been first responders battling an initial fire at the Texas plant before the massive explosion.