The Knights of Columbus have announced a donation drive to help the community of West, Texas after a massive fertilizer plant explosion killed a dozen people and demolished homes Wednesday night.

"May God provide eternal rest to the deceased and comfort to all those affected, and may all of us be inspired by the witness and courage of the emergency personnel and bystanders who rushed to the aid of those who were injured at the risk of their own lives," Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said April 18.

He said the thoughts and prayers of the Knights of Columbus are with all those killed or injured in Texas.

The explosion at the West Fertilizer Company plant took place after efforts to battle a small fire on the plant premises. It registered with the force of a 2.1-magnitude earthquake on U.S. Geological Survey monitors.

At least 12 bodies, including those of some fire fighters, have been recovered in the wake of the explosion. At least 200 people have been injured and 50 homes have been destroyed.

About half of the town has been evacuated, including a nursing home with 133 residents, CNN reports.

Knights of Columbus Council #2305 in West, Texas is working with local groups and public authorities to help the explosion's victims. The council has more than 500 members in a town of only 2,800.

The national Knights of Columbus organization is collecting donations for relief efforts through Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc. at the web page

The Catholic fraternal charitable organization is also accepting checks made out to Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc., with "Texas Fund" in the memo line. Checks may be mailed to:

Knights of Columbus Charities, Inc.
Texas Fund
1 Columbus Plaza
New Haven, CT 06510

One hundred percent of all donations will be sent to those affected. Donations are tax-deductible.

The donation drive will help marshal the membership of the Knights of Columbus, which has more than 1.8 million members worldwide.

The West community is predominantly Czech and mostly Catholic, the Diocese of Austin said.

The local Catholic church, St. Mary, Church of the Assumption Parish, is located along with its school about one mile from the plant and was not damaged in the blast. The parish has 1,275 registered families and its pre-K-8 school has 136 students and 17 faculty members. St. Mary's parish hall served as a command center for emergency responders.