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US president Barack Obama offered his prayers for the victims of an explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas, and said federal emergency officials had offered help to local and state officials who are responding to the tragedy.
"West is a town that many Texans hold near and dear to their hearts, and as residents continue to respond to this tragedy, they will have the support of the American people," Obama said in a statement.
President Obama has offered his "support and prayers" in the town of West, after an explosion at a fertiliser plant in the US state of Texas, Federal emergency officials have told Reuters.
In a statement, President Obama said:
Fires at the fertiliser plant and in some houses in West are still smouldering, but are not out of control, according to Sgt. William Patrick Swanton of Waco Police Department.
He added that the police are taking steps to secure the town of West following reports of "small amounts of looting".
A spokesman for Waco Police Department has said there are reports of small amounts of looting in the town of West following the evacuation.
"I don't have the specifics on exactly what occurred," he added.
Explosives expert Chris Hunter says there have been around 25 similar incidents in the past century, including one of the largest ever in the same state of Texas in 1947.
He told ITV News that toxic fumes have been given off in previous incidents, but that the blast itself is likely to cause the worst injuries:
As many as 15 people have been killed and more than 160 injured following an huge explosion at a fertiliser plant in the Texan town of West.
Emergency workers are desperately searching for survivors of the blast which was so powerful it was felt 45 miles away.
ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies reports:
There are fears that bad weather could hinder the rescue effort going in West, Texas after today's explosion.
Brady Taylor, a meteorologist for local TV station KWTX, tweeted:
In these amateur photographs, firefighters can be seen working in a severely damaged building in West, Texas:
This is purported to be a recording of emergency calls made after the explosion at the fertiliser plant in West, Texas.
Firefighters were already responding to a fire at the plant when the explosion happened.
A woman's voice can be heard saying: "There has been an explosion on the fire scene, there are firefighters down at this time".
This recording was taken from social media website SoundCloud and all efforts have been made to verify its authenticity, but this cannot be independently confirmed.
Latest ITV News reports
A major rescue effort is ongoing in a Texas town devastated by a fertiliser plant explosion that has been likened to a nuclear bomb blast.
A huge explosion at a fertiliser plant in the Texan town of West has injured more than 160 people and caused widespread destruction.