The explosion occurred around 7:50pm local time in the town of West, north of Waco. A fireball of nearly 100 feet high has been reported along with a massive power outage.
“Law enforcement is advising residents to leave town immediately,” West’s school district tweeted, potentially due to fears of another explosion.
Seventy people had been confirmed killed by the blast by late evening Thursday, as reported by KHOU, the local CBS News affiliate, with “hundreds injured.” Local news KXXV reports that among the dead are five firefighters and one police officer. State officials have yet to confirm these numbers.
Sixty-one others have been confirmed as admitted to Hillcrest Hospital in Waco, just one of the multiple emergency facilities in the area.
“We have not received any word on the number of fatalities,” a Hillcrest official told CNN Wednesday night.
Between 75-100 homes and businesses have been completely destroyed with the number injured exceeding 200, as per ABC News.
The explosion destroyed a nearby nursing home, where it is thought that people may still be trapped inside.
Roughly 150 survivors from the damaged nursing home were evacuated and sent to a community center outside of town, while doctors and staff of the Hillcrest Hospital have been taking in the first wave of burn victims. Fire units were draining water from community pools to douse the flames.