"We need every ambulance we can get this way. A bomb just went off inside here, it's pretty bad, we've got a lot of firemen down."
The desperate plea for help was one of many that poured into 911 in the moments after the West Fertiliser Plant exploded in Texas yesterday while firefighters were trying to contain an earlier blaze.
In the recordings, which were posted online, a dispatcher is heard saying: "There has been an explosion on the fire scene, there are firefighters down at this time, I repeat, there has been an explosion on the fire scene, there are firefighters down at this time." Emergency service workers are believed to be among those who have been seriously injured and killed.
In another 911 call from a rest home which caught fire after the explosion, a man is heard saying: "The rest home has been seriously damaged, we have many people down, police please respond ..." The dispatcher replies: "I'm getting you everyone I can ... I'm sending everyone I got."
Debby Marak told AP that when she finished teaching her religion class , she noticed a lot of smoke in the area across town near the plant. She said she drove over to see what was happening, and that when she got there, two boys came running toward her screaming that the authorities ordered everyone out because the plant was going to explode.
She said she had driven only about a block when the blast happened.
"It was like being in a tornado," Marak, 58, said. "Stuff was flying everywhere. It blew out my windshield. It was like the whole earth shook."
The woman's husband, who was at their home about 3km south of town, said he'd seen a huge fireball that rose like "a mushroom cloud".