Rescuers search ruins of Texas fertilizer plant

Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 15:57 PM.

First-responders evacuated 133 patients from the nursing home, some in wheelchairs. Many were dazed and panicked and did not know what happened.

William Burch and his wife, a retired Air Force nurse, entered the damaged nursing home before first-responders arrived. They searched separate wings and found residents in wheelchairs trapped in their rooms. The halls were dark, and the ceilings had collapsed. Water filled the hallways. Electrical wires hung eerily from the ceilings.

"They had Sheetrock that was on top of them. You had to remove that," Burch said. It was "completely chaotic."

Gov. Rick Perry called the explosion "a truly nightmare scenario for the community" and said he had been in touch with President Barack Obama, who promised his administration's assistance with operations on the ground.

Authorities said the plant made materials similar to those used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The fertilizer used in that attack, ammonium nitrate, makes big explosions, be they accidental or intentional said Neil Donahue, professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University. It also was used in the first bombing attempt at the World Trade Center in 1993.

Ammonium nitrate is stable, but if its components are heated up sufficiently, they break apart in a runaway explosive chemical reaction, said Neil Donahue, professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University.



1 2 3 4 5
Next

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

COMMENTS
▲ Return to Top