Massive explosion at Texas fertilizer plant
The explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant and caused major damage nearby, witnesses said.
April 17th, 2013
11:45 PM ET

Massive explosion at Texas fertilizer plant

An explosion ripped through a fertilizer plant Wednesday night in West, Texas, a witness told CNN.

A hospital in Waco, Texas, has been told to anticipate 100 injured people coming in from a fertilizer plant where there was a massive explosion, an official at the medical facility says. Glenn Robinson, CEO of Hillcrest Hospital, said a field triage station was set up at the plant some 18 miles north of Waco after the Wednesday night explosion.

Tommy Alford, who works in a convenience store about three miles from the plant, told CNN that several volunteer firefighters were at the store when they spotted smoke. Alford said the firefighters headed toward the scene and then between five and 10 minutes later, he heard a massive explosion.

CNN affiliate KWTX showed a photo of the explosion - which reportedly happened around 7:50 p.m. (8:50 p.m. ET) - showed a huge plume of smoke rising high into the air.

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Filed under: Texas
Sources: Possible suspects sought in Boston blasts
A photo from witness Ben Thorndike shows a site near one of the Boston bombings, shortly after the blast on Monday.
April 17th, 2013
10:31 PM ET

Sources: Possible suspects sought in Boston blasts

  • After law enforcement sources told CNN that an arrest was made in Boston Marathon bombings, two senior administration officials and another federal official told CNN contributor Fran Townsend that no arrest happened.
  • The bombs, which exploded 12 seconds apart near Boston Marathon finish line Monday, killed three people and wounded 178.
  • Full story here; also, see CNN affiliates WBZ; WCVB; WHDH

[Updated, 10:30 p.m. ET] Two men seen in images near the finish line of Monday's Boston Marathon - moments before two bombs there exploded - are of "high interest" and are considered "possible suspects," a law enforcement official said.

A circular sent out Wednesday by authorities indicated the attached photos, showing the two men, were being sent around "in an attempt to identify the individuals."The official said the men were of interest because of where they were at a particular time and what they were carrying. One of the men is seen carrying a black backpack.

The source said that authorities had not yet identified the two men by name and that the photographs were not being released to the public for fear of impeding the investigation.

Updated at 9:27 p.m. ET] As of Wednesday night, Boston-area hospitals had released 112 of the 178 treated for injuries sustained in the marathon attack. Thirteen patients are in critical condition, the same number as was reported earlier in the day.

[Updated at 7:32 p.m. ET] The FBI has cancelled its Wednesday news briefing, the Boston police announced. Minutes earlier, police had said the federal agency would make a "brief statement" on the marathon case.

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Filed under: Boston • Crime • Massachusetts
Officials: Arrest made tied to ricin scare
April 17th, 2013
10:29 PM ET

Officials: Arrest made tied to ricin scare

An arrest has been made in connection with possibly contaminated letters sent to President Obama and Sen. Roger Wicker, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Paul Kevin Curtis was arrested by the FBI at his home in Corinth, Mississippi, the department said in a statement.

Discovered Tuesday, the letters were addressed to Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, and to Obama. The justice department release said a third letter was sent to a Mississippi justice official.

The letters to Wicker and Obama were stopped at a government mail-screening facility after initial tests indicated the presence of the deadly poison ricin.

Because initial tests can be "inconsistent," the envelopes have been sent off for additional tests, an FBI statement said. The FBI does not expect to receive results from the tests until Thursday, federal law enforcement sources told CNN.

The letters read: "To see a wrong and not expose it, is to become a silent partner to its continuance."

They were signed "I am KC and I approve this message," a source said.

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Filed under: District of Columbia
April 17th, 2013
05:22 PM ET

Bad weather prompts flight cancellations

Hundreds of flights have been canceled Wednesday nationwide - including in Chicago and Denver - due to bad weather, airport officials said.

Airlines have reported 400 cancellations - out of 1,700 flights daily - at Denver International Airport due to a storm that is forecast to dump seven inches of snow in the area, the airport said at 2:50 p.m. (4:50 p.m. ET). The announcement came before the heavy snow had arrived.

Delays at the Denver airport are averaging just over two hours and 15 minutes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

At O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, meanwhile, more than 300 flights have been canceled due to bad weather.

The Chicago Department of Aviation reported the cancellations at 3:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. ET), as well as the fact that delays for flights that were still on - both in and out of the busy airport - averaged one hour or more.

Airlines reported delays of 30 minutes or more at Midway, another Chicago airport, the city department said.

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Filed under: Air travel • FAA • Travel
Senate nixes gun background checks expansion
The bipartisan proposal to expand background checks was backed by President Obama, but it failed to clear the Senate.
April 17th, 2013
04:32 PM ET

Senate nixes gun background checks expansion

In a major defeat for supporters of tougher gun laws, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday defeated a compromise proposal to expand background checks on firearms sales.

The bipartisan plan was brokered by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania. It was also backed by President Barack Obama in his push for a package of gun laws in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre.

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Filed under: Gun violence
April 17th, 2013
07:43 AM ET

Wednesday's live events

Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the investigation and fallout from Monday's fatal bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Today's programming highlights...

8:30 am ET - Boston hospital briefing - Hear from officials at Boston Medical Center on the conditions of those injured in the marathon bombings.

9:30 am ET - John Kerry on Congressional host seat - The secretary of state will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on securing U.S. interests abroad.  He may bring up North Korea and the Boston bombings.

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Filed under: Boston • Crime • Justice • Massachusetts • On CNN.com today • Politics • Terrorism • U.S.
April 17th, 2013
03:18 AM ET

Senate to start votes on gun bill

The U.S. Senate will begin voting on amendments to gun legislation on Wednesday, including the leading proposals for tighter restrictions spurred by the Connecticut school massacre in December.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the list of first votes would include the bipartisan yet controversial agreement on expanding background checks proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania.

Also up in the first round will be Sen. Dianne Feinstein's proposal to ban the sale of semiautomatic firearms modeled after military style assault weapons.

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Filed under: Politics • U.S.
April 17th, 2013
03:16 AM ET

Police: Rockets land in southern Israel

Two rockets landed in the southern Israeli city of Eilat on Wednesday, police said.

"We are telling residents to immediately take cover and make their way to safe zones and shelters if they hear the sirens," Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries after the rockets landed in a neighborhood and an open field.

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Filed under: World
April 17th, 2013
02:16 AM ET

FBI releases new details on Boston bombs

One of the two bombs used in the Boston Marathon attacks used a pressure cooker, the FBI said in a Joint Intelligence Bulletin.

The second device, the agency said, was housed in a metal container, "but currently there is insufficient evidence to determine if it was also a pressure cooker," the bulletin said.

The alert also said the fuzing system and method of initiation for the two devices are unknown.

The two devices, which exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, left three people dead and more than 180 injured. No suspects have been identified.

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Filed under: Crime • U.S. • World
April 17th, 2013
12:15 AM ET

Britain prepares to bid farewell to Thatcher

Amid pomp and ceremony, Britain will say its final farewell Wednesday to Margaret Thatcher - its first female prime minister and a politician who even in death divides public opinion.

More than 2,000 mourners, Queen Elizabeth II and serving UK Prime Minister David Cameron among them, will join Thatcher's family at St. Paul's Cathedral in London to pay their respects.

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Filed under: United Kingdom • World