By M. Alex Johnson, John Newland and Tracy Connor, NBC News
Rescue crews were going door to door Thursday in the ruins of a small Texas town where a fertilizer-plant explosion killed as many as 15 people, injured more than 160 and destroyed dozens of home and businesses, including a nursing home.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared a disaster and asked for an emergency declaration from the federal government as officials said the devastation made it difficult to pinpoint the number of dead.
“I don’t know how many folks may still be trapped in rubble,” said Sgt. William Patrick Swanton. “Homes have been destroyed. There are homes flattened. Part of that community is gone.”
Those still missing included three to five firefighters who were battling a blaze at the plant when it blew up just before 8 p.m. Wednesday, shaking the ground with the force of a magnitude-2.1 earthquake and unleashing a plume of smoke over the farming town of West.