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West Explosion Almost Exactly 66 Years After 'Texas City Disaster'

Emergency crews are still looking for survivors after an explosion yesterday evening in West, Texas.

The explosion happened at the West Fertilizer Plant and crews are still estimating that five to 15 people were killed and about 160 were injured. The blast leveled as many as 75 homes and businesses near the plant.

In a strange turn of events, the explosion happened 66 years almost to the day of one of the state’s biggest industrial disasters: the Texas City Disaster.

On April 16, 1947, the ship SS Grandcamp exploded at the docks in Texas City. The ship was carrying ammonium nitrate – a primary component of fertilizer.

Former KUT Freelance Journalist Wayne Bell has the story:

It was one of the worst peace-time disasters in American history. It still is.  In 1947, two ships exploded in the harbor of Texas City, outside Houston. Hundreds were killed, thousands more were injured.  The disaster that changed lives, changed Texas, and changed America, is just as real now, as it was more than half a century ago.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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