A massive explosion at a Houston manufacturing plant rocked a large section of the nation’s fourth-largest city early Friday, leaving two dead and damaging 200 homes. Dozens of people have also visited local emergency rooms, complaining of minor injuries and breathing problems.
The Houston Chronicle reports: The blast jerked residents awake shortly after 4:15 a.m., damaging scores of homes, knocking structures from foundations, ripping doors off hinges, and strewing wreckage across a half-mile wide debris field. Police Chief Art Acevedo said terrorism is not suspected, but said the department is launching a criminal investigation into the incident. … In the hours after the blast, environmental watchdogs excoriated “another chemical explosion” that had claimed more lives in the Houston area, and called for greater government oversight to protect workers and residents living and working near industrial plants.
More from the Associated PressL “Do a search around your own home and your own neighborhood, even if you’re a mile away from this location,” Acevedo said. “Look for any debris, any body parts, anything that may be related. If you find anything in your immediate home, in your yard, don’t touch it. Just call the Houston Police Department so we can respond.” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said hazardous materials crews have secured the valve on a 2,000-gallon (7,571-liter) tank of propylene that had been leaking. Propylene is a colorless gas used to produce chemicals in plastics, synthetic rubber and gasoline. It is highly flammable and can explode in a fire. People exposed to propylene can become dizzy and light-headed, and the gas can also cause liver damage.
More footage of the explosion and damage below.