Public, witnesses react to plant explosion

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WEST, Texas - While the impact of Wednesday night's deadly plant explosion in central Texas drew national attention, rescue crews continued searching through the rubble in the town of West on Thursday.

Around the town of about 2,800 people, some buildings were still smoldering in the early morning hours.  Others had their masonry ripped apart.

Authorities estimated the explosion killed between 5 and 15 people and injured more than 160 others.

People who witnessed the massive explosion and those who live in the area were still in shock Thursday.

"I just saw the explosion," said Sammy Chavez, a West resident.  "And then after that, I took off running.  Then I saw the rest home, and people were buried under the rest home...[it] was just gone."

"[The explosion] threw me about 10 feet or so," said another West resident.  "I remember waking up and feeling the roof had collapsed on me.  I didn't even know I was hurt until I got out, and blood started running down my glasses."

"It just blew my hat off," said Tommy Muska, the mayor of West.  "And then I heard it.  I felt it before I heard it.  It blew my rear-view mirror off my car.  It was a very powerful explosion."

Governor Perry also reacted to the explosion and released the following statement:

"We are monitoring developments and gathering information as details continue to emerge about this incident.  We have also mobilized state resources to help local authorities.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of West, and the first responders on the scene."

Even the pope reached out via Twitter to ask followers to pray for victims.  In a message posted Thursday morning, Pope Francis said:  "Please join me in praying for the victims of the explosion in Texas and their families."

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