POSTED: Friday, April 19, 2013 - 9:00am
UPDATED: Friday, April 19, 2013 - 9:04am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Search and rescue crews are working around the clock in the small town of West, Texas, searching for possible survivors of a massive fertilizer plant explosion that destroyed several city blocks of a residential area.
The explosion erupted without warning, causing mass devastation.
Destroyed in the blast were as many as 75 homes, an apartment complex and an evacuated nursing home.
"It is highly populated, it is a neighborhood, it is devastated," said Deputy Sheriff Matt Cawthon.
It started when the plant caught fire Wednesday night.
Firefighters responding to the call were caught up in the explosion.
At least 11 people were killed. More than 160 more were injured and many are missing.
Officials say it is still too early to know how many people have lost their lives.
Seeking comfort, mourners in this close knit town of just 2,800 people gathered for a prayer service Thursday night.
There's no word yet on what started the initial fire. The ATF's National Elite Response Team has been called in to investigate.