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TODAY   |  April 18, 2013

Explosion in Texas kills at least 5, injures more than 100

Rescue workers are still searching for survivors after an explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant in the small town of West, Tex., killing at least five people and injuring more than 100. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>> with the breaking news. this deadly explosion in west texas . let's get to gabe gutierrez at the emergency staging area . give us the latest, please.

>> reporter: savannah, good morning. this is a small town about 2,800 people. this morning, they are dealing with the aftermath of a devastating explosion. crews are still going door to door searching for victims. the initial fire was bad enough. but then --

>> are you okay?

>> i can't hear.

>> this terrifying video shows the explosion wednesday in the small town of west, texas, near waco.

>> enough to take your breath away.

>> as firefighters worked to put out a blaze just before 8:00 p.m .

>> it's a major, major explosion. the windows came in on me, the roof came in on me. the ceiling came in. i worked my way out to go get some more help.

>> reporter: three to five firefighters and one police officer are unaccounted for this morning.

>> i was there. i walked through the blast area. i searched some houses earlier tonight. massive, just like iraq, just like the building in oklahoma city .

>> authorities say 5 to 15 people were killed, more than 160 people were injured and as many as 75 homes were damaged. the five-block radius also destroyed a nursing home and 50 units at an apartment complex.

>> this was unlike anything i've ever felt before.

>> it smelled just nasty, that ammonia, it was fertilizer, you could smell that in the air and black smoke and just a horrible scene.

>> reporter: the explosion so powerful that u.s. geological survey reports it was equal to a 2.1 magnitude earthquake.

>> well, the buildings are gone, we need to get some search teams in here to get the people out.

>> reporter: no word yet on what started the initial fire, but investigators are treating the area as a crime scene just in case.

>> nothing at this point indicates that we have had criminal activity. however, we are absolutely not ruling that out.

>> reporter: the u.s. chemical safety board says it is deploying an investigative team to the area. but right now, local officials say there's no safety concern from any of the smoke