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  • CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: I`m Carl Azuz. Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS.

  • We`re starting with a story about an explosion Wednesday night at a plant at a town of West.

  • It`s located in Texas.

  • The impact from this explosion was felt up to 50 miles away, and in the town itself, devastation.

  • Thursday, officials said anywhere from five to 15 people may have been killed, more than 160 others were injured.

  • Martin Savidge has more details.

  • MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stunning video: the West fertilizer plant at the small town of West, Texas, about 20 miles from Waco, exploding.

  • A blast and the massive fire that followed living dozens of homes and buildings heavily damaged or destroyed.

  • The town`s mayor telling CNN what it felt like.

  • TOMMY MUSKA, MAYOR OF WEST, TEXAS: I`ve never seen any explosion like that.

  • It`s just a ball of fire, just went up like a nuclear bomb went off.

  • Big old mushroom cloud.

  • SAVIDGE: The blast was strong, it registered as a magnitude 2.1 earthquake.

  • Half of the town`s 2,600 residents were forced to evacuate.

  • Officials concerned about potentially deadly gas fumes and a second fertilizer tank that could also explode.

  • People living near the plant feared for their lives.

  • CRYSTAL ANTHONY, WEST, TEXAS RESIDENT: When it exploded, we all just hit the ground, and I was trying to cover up our daughter, because there was a lot of debris flying.

  • And then after that, it was just basically search and rescues.

  • SAVIDGE: The smoldering fire and fumes prevented rescue workers from getting near the plant,

  • officials say the blast area resembles a war zone.

  • AZUZ: Authorities say they`re not ruling out the idea of criminal activity,

  • but they didn`t have any evidence yesterday that indicated anything criminal.

  • There were some concerns about a substance, though, called anhydrous ammonia.

  • It`s a gas that`s used to make fertilizer.

  • The fumes from it can cause irritation, even suffocation.

  • When it`s mixed with water like water in the human body, it can cause severe burns,

  • so officials were worried about people being exposed to it.

  • The explosion Wednesday night sent out a shock wave.

  • People who were blocks away were knocked to the ground.

  • Houses were destroyed or severely damaged.

  • In Boston, investigators are working leads as they try to track down information about this week`s terrorist attack.

  • Yesterday afternoon, the FBI identified two suspects, two men who were at the scene of the bombings.

  • You can see them here in white and black baseball caps.

  • Officials released these images, partly in hopes that the public could help identify the suspects.

  • They`re asking the public to go to FBI.gov to see the images and provide any tips they have.

  • As the investigation moves forward, many people in Boston paused Thursday for reflection.

  • An interfaith service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross honored the victims of Monday`s attack.

  • There was heavy security outside, and a number of police officers inside, too.

  • Police and other first responders were part of the crowd of around 2,000 people who attended the service.

  • President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were there as well.

  • Later in the day the president met with first responders and volunteers at a local school,

  • and the first lady visited patients, families and medical stuff at nearby hospitals.

  • During yesterday`s memorial service, several speakers talked about how the city of Boston is coming together in the response to this tragedy.

  • REV. LIZ WALKER, ROXBURY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: We are gathered in community,

  • and through the blur of each other`s tears and the beats of so many broken hearts, we will rise in community.

  • MAYOR THOMAS MENINO, BOSTON: I`m telling you, nothing can defeat the heart of this city.

  • Nothing. Nothing will take us down, because we take care of one another.

  • AZUZ: If you`re looking for ways, either the victims of Monday`s attack in Boston or of the explosion in West, Texas.

  • There are ways to get involved.

  • You can go to our homepage cnnstudentnews.com, head to the resources box and look for the "Impact Your World" link.

  • That`s where you`ll find some details on how you can help make a difference.

  • A day after two letters that apparently contain poison arrived in Washington D.C

  • a man in Mississippi was arrested in connection with the case.

  • One of the letters was addressed to President Obama,

  • the other was addressed to U.S. Senator Roger Wicker who represents Mississippi.

  • Both letters initially tested positive for ricin, a deadly poison.

  • But they were intercepted at a location that screens mail for this type of thing.

  • The mail arrested is Paul Kevin Curtis, a 45-year old entertainer from Mississippi.

  • He`s also suspected in the mailing of another letter to a Mississippi judge.

  • Investigators say all three letters had the same words, in the same font, on the same type of paper.

  • They also reportedly contained a quote that Curtis had on his Facebook page.

  • UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just the facts:

  • in 1993, there was a standoff between the U.S. government and members of an armed religious cult the Branch Davidians.

  • The standoff lasted 51 days outside the group`s compound in Waco, Texas.

  • 20 years ago today, on April 19th, the government agents launched a raid on the compound.

  • A fire broke out inside and by the end of the day around 80 people have lost their lives.

  • AZUZ: The raid in Waco is one of several significant events that happened on April 19th or 20th.

  • Another happened two years later in Oklahoma City.

  • On April 19th, 1995, a bomb went off at the Alfred P. Murrah federal building.

  • 168 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured.

  • Two Americans, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted in the attack.

  • McVeigh received the death penalty, Nichols is serving life in prison.

  • The site of the federal building was turned into a park and memorial with 168 stone and glass chairs arranged in rows,

  • one chair for every victim of the bombing.

  • On April 20th, 1999 tragedy struck Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

  • Two students carrying guns and bombs were responsible.

  • 13 people, 12 students and one teacher were killed.

  • The gunmen took their own lives, and 23 others were injured.

  • A memorial to the victims of the shooting opened in 2007 at a park near the school.

  • Finally, that started in the Gulf of Mexico, but had a direct impact on cities and states all along the U.S. Gulf coast.

  • On April 20th, three years ago, there was an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig,

  • 11 of the 126 workers on board were killed.

  • Beneath the surface, oil began spilling out of the well and despite several efforts to try to contain it, the spilling didn`t stop for months.

  • 205 million gallons of oil leaked out in the Gulf of Mexico making this the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

  • Teacher Appreciation Week starts on May 6th,

  • we know you want to shout out your favorite teachers,

  • but this year we want to know what superlative you think they deserve:

  • most cheerful, most helpful, most likely to be awesome.

  • Be on the lookout for our next "iReport" assignment at cnnstudentnews.com.

  • We`ll have more info on this next week.

  • Have you watched or been in the spelling bee and seen a contestant asked for a word`s definition?

  • You won`t see it anymore in the national spelling bee. At least not in the early rounds.

  • Now, competitors have to spell their words and know what they mean.

  • This change in the rules and when it was announced could spell controversy.

  • CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The pressure builds, competitors fidget, parents can`t bear to watch.

  • UNIDENTIFIED MALE: R, H, I, N, E. - saratorhine (ph).`

  • WIAN: This year the spelling bee will be even tougher,

  • contestants in the preliminary rounds of the national finals also will be required to know the meanings of words.

  • PAIGE KIMBLE, EX. DIR., SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE: The reason for the change is all about extending the bee`s commitment to its purpose,

  • which long has been not only to help students improve their spelling, but also to increase the vocabulary,

  • learn concepts and develop correct English usage.

  • WIAN: Don`t tell that to 11-year old spelling bee competitor Sanat Mishra.

  • SANAT MISHRA, SPELLING BEE COMPETITOR: It doesn`t make sense, I don`t get the rule.

  • WIAN: Sanat has one local and regional spelling bees, one prize was this iPad,

  • and last year he made it to the finals of the South Asian spelling bee.

  • He`s now studying and hopes he`ll reach the national finals,

  • where South Asian Americans have won ten of the past 14 competitions.

  • MISHRA: I check the pages, look for words, then later my mom asks me the words - like Iapygian right here.

  • WIAN (on camera): Right. And can you spell it for me?

  • MISHRA: I, A, P, Y, G, I, A, N.

  • WIAN (voice over): It`s a group of ancient people living in Southern Italy.

  • Not knowing that might knock you out of this year`s competition.

  • The new rule is controversial in part because it was announced only seven weeks before the national finals.

  • MISHRA: Yeah, there is going to be a lot of last minute studying, and that`s never good.

  • KIMBLE: The timing of our announcement of incorporation of vocabulary is absolutely fair.

  • April is the first opportunity to engage all of the participants who have qualified for the national finals.

  • WIAN: SCRIPPS and ESPN both reject speculation the rule change`s TV ratings driven,

  • perhaps in effort to limit the number of competitors in the finals.

  • The vocabulary test won`t be televised.

  • Sanat`s parents have no problem with the new rule.

  • SUDAM MISHRA, FATHER: If they make the rules harder, it will be for everybody.

  • SUCHARITA MISHRA, MOTHER: The number one person, he`s going to be number one no matter how many rules you change.

  • WIAN: Casey Wian, CNN, Chino Hills, California.

  • AZUZ: So, knowing definitions can help you rule and not knowing them could spell disaster.

  • Word, either way the competition should still be exciting.

  • Teachers, don`t forget to hit our homepage to tell us what you think of today`s show, have a great weekend, everyone.

  • END

CARL AZUZ, CNN ANCHOR: I`m Carl Azuz. Welcome to CNN STUDENT NEWS.

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April 19, 2013 - CNN Student News with subtitles

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