Chatter: Texas fertilizer plant explodes




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It was like a bomb going off, witnesses said. A fertilizer plant exploded last night in the small town of West, Texas, sending a massive fireball into the sky, destroying dozens of homes, and leaving the area "like a war zone."

It's not yet known how many were killed; authorities say it's at least five and probably more. Rescue teams are going door to door to search for those who survived – and those who didn't. Hospitals have been treating scores of wounded people throughout the night.

The explosion seems to have been caused by chemicals stored at the plant, though the details remain unclear. Another tank is feared to be at risk of exploding or leaking toxic gas, and any remaining residents are being warned to get out while they can.


Pakistan's former president is on the run. General Pervez Musharraf, who ruled the country between 2001 and 2008 after seizing power in a coup, dramatically fled an Islamabad courtroom today moments after judges ordered his arrest.

He's wanted for alleged treason committed six years ago, when he opted to impose emergency rule and place judges under house arrest. While the judiciary appears determined to pursue him, it's thought unlikely the still powerful military will allow one of its own to be detained. Nonetheless, this latest legal gauntlet is liable to scupper Musharraf's last remaining chances of making a comeback in general elections next month.

These are tense times in the US. Three days after the Boston Marathon was bombed, and one day after a man was arrested on suspicion of mailing ricin to the president and other public figures, Barack Obama is expected in Boston to show the city's victims he's with them, and tell the nation the city's attackers will be caught.

No arrests have yet been made, despite the media's hurry to report otherwise. Investigators say they have their biggest lead yet, however, in the form of a surveillance video that appears to show at least one suspect planting a backpack near the marathon finish line. The FBI cancelled a scheduled press conference on the investigation last night; further developments, we hope, will be announced today.

What North Korea wants. Pyongyang has laid out its terms for entering negotiations, and they're no small order. The North says it will agree to speak to its "enemies" so long as the UN withdraws its sanctions, and South Korea and the US permanently call off their joint military drills.

South Korea's government, which has seen its own conditional offer of talks rejected by the North as a "crafty trick," dismissed these latest demands as "incomprehensible" and "absurd." But they're a significant change from threatening to unleash nuclear war, at least, and some are optimistic that they could be a start.


The horse started it. "Animal lover" of the week is one Barry Rogerson, a man from northern England who – ahem – punched a horse. Even more audaciously, he did it while a policeman was sitting atop the animal, in the midst of a soccer riot.

Barry, to no one's surprise, was arrested over the incident. He maintains it was self-defense, since the horse, spooked by the surrounding street violence, appeared to charge him. It was still "stupid," our Barry tearfully admits, claiming he "loves animals." Bud the horse, meanwhile, is said to be fine.