60 people missing; 14 confirmed dead in West

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by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on April 19, 2013 at 7:16 AM

Updated Friday, Apr 19 at 7:28 PM

WEST, Texas -- The search continues in West on Friday for victims of the fertilizer plant explosion.

Friday morning DPS authorities in West confirmed rescuers had recovered 14 bodies in the area around the plant. About 200 others suffered injuries in Wednesday evening's blast. On Friday Senator John Cornyn said about 60 people are still unaccounted for.
 
A search and rescue effort continues. Sgt. Jason Reyes of the Texas Department of Public Safety says rescuers are going through each home and building. As of 8:45 a.m. on Friday, Sgt. Reyes said first responders had cleared 150 buildings. They identified 50 destroyed homes. Twenty-five more homes had yet to be inspected.

Residents fear the death count could rise. Reyes couldn’t confirm how many of the bodies already found were first responders, but that's their fear. One West resident says she saw firefighters heading out to the plant just minutes before the explosion.

“I knew most of them that were going that way. I assumed they were just going to a little grass fire on the edge of town or something. I walked back in the house and it wasn't but maybe 10 minutes...it just... a huge blast going north to south went through,” said West resident Alicea Whitener.
 
Many victims are staying at the town’s community center since they can't go home. Volunteers are on hand, including grief counselors, to help them cope with the loss.

A special prayer service is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at St. Mary’s in West. Bishop Joe Vasquez will be there along with representatives of other faiths.   

Stay with KVUE-TV and KVUE.com for continuing coverage of this event. We'll also have the latest on our free KVUE News mobile apps for smartphones and iPads.

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