Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday he is declaring McLennan County a disaster area and calling for federal relief from President Obama in the wake of a massive explosion at a fertilizer plant that killed up to 15 people and injured scores more.
The National Guard is assisting numerous local and state agencies in an "active search and rescue operation" in the area surrounding the West Fertilizer, Co., in West, Texas, a town located about 20 miles north of Waco.
"Last night was truly a nightmare scenario for that community," Mr. Perry said.
Amateur footage showed a large fire at the plant, moments before chemicals within the building cause it to erupt with ferocious force. The Associated Press reported that the blast shook the ground like an earthquake and could be heard for miles away.
Mr. Perry said it has been "a very tragic, difficult 16 hours for all of us and all of our friends and loved ones" who experienced the tragedy or watched from afar, yet praised the efforts of first responders and neighbors in the small town.
Mr. Obama called the governor from Air Force One en route to Massachusetts for the prayer service held in honor of those who were killed or injured in bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
"We greatly appreciate his call and his gracious offer of support, of course, and the very quick turnaround of the emergency declaration that will be forthcoming and his offer of prayers," Mr. Perry said.
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