In a blast that was equivalent to a 2.1 magnitude earthquake felt 45 miles away from the fertilizer plant, officials believe at least 15 people lost their lives and more than 160 sustained injuries. The explosion sent off a ball of fire and completely burnt down nearby homes devastating a four-block area this week. Along with the rest of the country, North Carolina residents may be praying for the safety of officials going through the mounds of debris left behind, trying to locate survivors as a storm moved into the affected area.
The explosion is under investigation, but preliminary reports indicated it was an industrial accident, involving a railroad tanker carrying a form of ammonia used in the process of making ammonia. It is not sure how many industrial workers were lost in the factory accident in Texas, but officials claim some firefighters are also unaccounted for.
According to emergency officials, a fire call was placed to emergency personnel half an hour before the explosion took place. At the time the explosion took place, there were firefighters, policemen and paramedics on the scene trying to evacuate nearby residents. There were schools, nursing homes and residential homes, all of which were evacuated and many of which were burnt to the ground as a result of the explosion.
As the investigation into the horrific explosion continues, North Carolina employers and employees alike should remember their duties to one another. Employers should make sure to provide a safe working environment and inspect the working area. Employees should make sure to report a workplace injury as soon as it takes place. Reporting smaller workplace accidents may assist in preventing bigger ones in the future.
Source: USA Today, "Teams search for survivors of deadly Texas plant blast," Rick Jervis and Doug Stanglin, April 18, 2013