WEST (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz toured the devastation in West Friday.
A fertilizer plant in the small central Texas town exploded on Wednesday — killing at least a dozen people. Many of the dead were the first responders who rushed to put out an initial fire at the plant.
“I visited earlier today with a young lady who lost her home and who lost friends and loved ones in this terrible tragedy,” said Senator Cruz at a press briefing. “Your heart weeps for their suffering.”
According to state investigators, 50 homes were destroyed in the blast that left some 200 injured. As crews continued to search the wreckage for possible survivors, there is concern that the death toll may climb.
“There’s still about 60 people unaccounted for and we need to make sure that everybody who can be accounted for is properly taken care of,” said Senator Cornyn.
The Senators declined to speculate on what regulatory changes might be needed in the wake of the deadly blast in order to prevent future tragedies.
“All of us want to know what happened here,” said Senator Cruz, “what caused the explosion, what factors made it more likely. And I think it would be a mistake to rush to a conclusion before the facts and evidence are assembled.” Meanwhile, access to the affected area is being severely restricted.
“We are still treating this as a crime scene,” says Sgt. Jason Reyes, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety. “We will go in there and we’re going to make sure we conduct a thorough investigation.”
So while the community waits for answers, there were also reminders today of the losses of others, as both senators referenced the terror attacks in Boston. Senator Cruz spoke of having spoken of both incidents with a Massachusetts colleague in the Senate.
“It was striking how similar her sentiments were: in the midst of tragedy and suffering there was story after story of inspirational heroism… of people stepping forward helping others and saying, ‘we’re going to come together and we’re going to come through this more strongly’.”
Cruz said it was “uplifting to see so many Texans coming together, so many people who dropped everything and said ‘how can we help?’”
Both senators commended the first responders and the community for caring and supporting each other, and had this message for the people of West: “You are being lifted up in the prayers of millions of Texas, millions of Americans, people around the world and the same is true for the citizens of Boston,” said Cruz. “When we face great adversity, we come together and we stand together and we’re doing that today.”
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