The possibility of intentional causes is not being ruled out at the chemical fertiliser factory in Texas. Until more is known, the town of West is designated as a crime scene.
Given the national mood, there is some unofficial ‘reviewing’ going on of sinister connections with the past.
The explosion came two days before the 20th anniversary of a fire in nearby Waco that engulfed a compound inhabited by the Branch Davidian sect. This ended a siege by federal agents.
The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau had attempted to execute a search warrant at a ranch. A gun battle followed, and then the FBI siege, which went on for 50 days. The death toll was more than 80, after the fire, most of those who died men, women and children in the sect.
April 19 was also the date in 1995 of a truck bomb attack that claimed 168 lives at a US government office complex in Oklahoma City.
That was the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in American history. More than 600 people were injured. The main author of the crime, Timothy McVeigh, said the Waco deaths were one reason he did it. He was executed in June 2001.
Other coincidences between 1993 and 2013 are the strong pressures brought by Democrat presidents to legislate to control fire-arms.
Bill Clinton in February 1993 began waging his defence of the Brady Bill against the pro-gun lobby; it was adopted at the end of that year. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act instituted federal background checks on purchasers. The National Rifle Association fought it, and tried to have it ruled unconstitutional.
Twenty years later, opposition to Obama’s control campaign has defeated plans to expand background checks to sales made online and at gun shows, and to limit assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The revived debate had followed the massacre by a gunman in December in Newtown, Connecticut, of 20 children and six adults.
Obama said: “This was a pretty shameful day for Washington. But this effort is not over. I want to make it clear to the American people we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence.”
Family members of gun violence victims were barely consolable. A few hours after the failure on Wednesday to muster enough votes in the US Senate, West, Texas, exploded.