Texas City, TX Oil Refinery Explosion, Mar 2005
BLAST AT TEXAS OIL REFINERY KILLS AT LEAST 14.
Texas City, Texas (AP) - Anxious relatives awaited word of loved ones missing when a thunderous blast rocked a sprawling oil refinery south of Houston, killing at least 14 workers, injuring more than 100 others and rattling windows as far as five miles away.
The fiery blast Wednesday at BP's 1,200-acre plant shot flames high into the sky, forced school children to cower under their desks and showered plant grounds with ash and chunks of charred metal.
"Have you ever heard the thunder real loud? It was like 10 times that," said Charles Gregory, who was with several co-workers inside a trailer truck when the floor started rumbling.
Rescue crews searched for survivors or bodies into Wednesday night, several hours after the 1:20 p.m. explosion. An undetermined number of the plant's 1,800 workers were unaccounted for.
Valerie Perez, was among those standing vigil outside the refinery fence late Wednesday, concerned about the fate of her 18-year-old husband, a BP worker who hadn't contacted her all afternoon.
Perez, who has a 3-month-old baby, said her husband always takes his cell phone to work but left it behind Wednesday.
"I'm nervous," she said, holding back tears.
Refinery manager Don Parus said BP was waiting on an official death toll from the medical examiner's office, but added, "It's my deep regret that we believe we have 14 losses of life."
The cause of the explosion was not immediately known. It occurred in a part of the plant used to boost the octane level of gasoline. Federal investigators will conduct a preliminary review of the accident.
"We have not had time to investigate causes, and we will not speculate," Parus said. "But at this time, terrorism is not a primary focus of our concern."
Wenceslado de la Cerda, a 50-year-old retired firefighter, said the blast shook the ground, rattled windows and knocked ceiling panels to the floor.
"Basically, it was one big boom," he said. "It's a shame that people have to get killed and hurt trying to make a dollar in these plants, but that's part of reality."
Tyrone Daily Herald Pennsylvania 2005-03-24
Listing of Casualties:
JIMMY RAY HUNNINGS.
MORRIS RAYMOND KING.
LARRY WAYNE LINSENBARDT.
RYAN RENE RODRIGUEZ.
JAMES WALTER ROWE.
LINDA MARIE ROWE.
EUGENE FRANKLIN WHITE.