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Thursday 28 August 2014

Texas plant blast damage 'at £65m'

Published 25/04/2013 | 01:36

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Workers pause for a memorial service at the site of the fire and explosion in West, Texas (AP/The San Antonio Express-News, Tom Reel)

The damage to homes and businesses caused by an explosion at a Texas fertiliser plant has been estimated Wednesday to exceed 100 million US dollars (£65 million), as crews continue to sift through a 90ft crater searching for answers.

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The Insurance Council of Texas released its estimate after speaking to numerous adjusters and agents in West, Texas, where officials and displaced residents are working to rebuild after last week's blast.

The explosion killed at least 14 people, injured 200 and damaged dozens of buildings.

Investigators have not determined what set off the blast or whether it was intentional. At least two lawsuits have been filed against Adair Grain which operated the West Fertiliser plant.

Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council, said the total figure included estimates on how many homes were destroyed, the property inside and the cost of relocating residents. As many as 140 homes were damaged, he said. With housing limited in West, many families are living in nearby Waco or Hillsboro.

"When you put something together like this, you want to be on the high side," Mr Hanna said. "When you go into a catastrophic situation, the last thing you want to do is lowball estimates like this."

Investigators said the explosion occurred at 7.51pm on April 17 - 18 minutes after first responders, including volunteer firefighters from West, were alerted to a fire at West Fertiliser.

Most of the 10 first responders who died in the explosion were found east of the main crater, Assistant State Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner said.

Officials continue to study fire and blast patterns to try to determine what ignited on the site and how, Mr Kistner said.

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