TODAY

TODAY   |  April 19, 2013

12 now confirmed dead after Texas fertilizer plant blast

Officials in West, Texas, are now confirming 12 dead, 200 injured, and some still missing after the explosion at a fertilizer plant. TODAY’s Matt Lauer talks with mayor pro tem Steve Vanek about the continued search for survivors and answers.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we want to check in with matt lauer who's also been covering a major story. the fertilizer plant explosion in the town of west, texas , that devastated that community. matt is with us. good morning to you.

>> reporter: savannah, good morning to you. in boston they search for suspects and here they are searching for answers as to what may have caused the blast 40 to 48 hours ago. i'm with the mayor pro tem and volunteer firefighter . my condolences on the loss here. we had a gentleman walking around passing out this leaflet with a picture of a man not seen since the explosion. what else can you tell snus how much of the area has been searched?

>> 80% of the houses in the blast area, not the blast site but the blast area has been searched. in those houses that have been searched there's been one fatality. this gentleman here, it is new to me. this is the first i have seen that and we will continue to search.

>> is there fear that some employees of the fertilizer facility may be missing and there is an apartment complex that they want to go in and take a closer look at.

>> as far as the apartment complex , that's their priority today. they are coming in with heavy equipment where they can get and peel back stuff to make it safe to see if there is somebody in there which that is possible. we hope not but it is possible.

>> i mentioned you are a volunteer firefighter . we are here at the volunteer fire department where five members of your team lost their lives. how are their families coping?

>> it's hard. it's hard. the mayor, i believe, is with the family of one of them as we speak. we will console them and be with them as much as we can. not for the next few days, but for the months and years to come. we know all of these people. one of the firefighters that was killed was a life-long friend of my son. in fact my son spent more time at his house than he did ours. it is so close. it will be hard.

>> one family took an especially hard hit. two of the firefighters lost were brothers.

>> yes, bob and doug . and it's ironic, both of their fathers were in the west fire department for 30 years.

>> and the fire department also lost some of its ability to deal with situations in the future, three vehicles were destroyed in this explosion. i was here this morning as some local communities delivered fire equipment to this facility here so that you guys can cope in the near term.

>> yes. they are from the surrounding communities and they are taking this over for us so that we can get our act together, for lack of a better word. until we do that, they will be here for us. some of our equipment, our pumper truck was brand new. it was brand new a dwreer and a half old. it was a devastating loss and the texas municipal league has contacted us about working to get new equipment but still going to take time.

>> steve, thank you for joining us. my condolences to you and the people here in west, texas . that's the story here. 12 donconfirmed dead and 200 injured. some may be missing as they continue to search.