Police in Texas say between five and 15 people were killed in a fertilizer plant explosion that also injured more than 160 others.
An explosion on Wednesday night shook the ground with the strength of a small earthquake in the community of 2,800 people located about 20 miles north of Waco.
Although authorities said it will be some time before they know the full extent of the loss of life, they put the number of those injured at more than 100.
In the hours after the blast, many of the town's residents wandered the dark and windy streets searching for shelter.
Waco police Sgt William Patrick Swanton said on early Thursday morning that the death toll is only an estimate as search and rescue operations remain under way in downtown West.
Rescue workers searched rubble that witnesses compared to a warzone on early Thursday for survivors of a fertilizer plant explosion in a small Texas town.
The explosion sent flames shooting into the night sky and rained burning embers, shrapnel and debris down on shocked and frightened residents.