Texas Panhandle Town Hit by Tornado, Deaths Report

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Image Source: Reuters

The mayor said the Texas panhandle town of Perryton was struck on Thursday by one or more tornadoes that caused fatalities. Images from the ground showed much of the town left in rubble as emergency crews searched for survivors. “It’s bad, it’s awful,” Perryton Mayor Kerry Symons said by telephone, adding that he could not say how many people had died until Friday morning.

Homes were ripped apart and left in rubble as the storm moved through the area, destroying mobile homes and slamming pickup trucks with their shattered windshields against mounds of debris in residential areas. The tornado also swept through downtown Perryton, tearing up about two blocks of businesses, including an office supply store, a floral shop, and a hair salon. A minivan was shoved into the outer wall of a theater.

As the sun rose on Friday, bodies could be seen inside torn-apart mobile homes. At least 200 structures were damaged, including some reduced to a heap of sticks and stones. First responders from surrounding towns and cities and from neighboring Oklahoma descended on the town of 8,000 people, about 115 miles northeast of Amarillo and just south of the Oklahoma line.

Perryton’s hospital was flooded with injured people, and some with life-threatening injuries were being transferred to larger medical centers in Amarillo. The Ochiltree General Hospital had not yet received any dead. Still, a spokeswoman said that up to 100 people were treated at the hospital on Thursday night with various injuries ranging from scratches to a collapsed lung.

Residents in Rolling Fork in western Mississippi struggled to come to terms with the loss of so many homes after a tornado swept through on Friday, killing at least 26 people. A mobile home park in the town was destroyed, and some people were trapped when their homes were ripped off.

A tornado warning was in effect for the entire region from Amarillo to Lubbock to Fort Worth as it moved through the state’s northwestern corner. Forecasters warned of wind damage and large hail with the possibility of a few tornadoes but said the threat would diminish as the storm moved east.

The tornado began in Hill County near Bynum and traveled through Navarro County, touching down south of Hemphill, then moved toward the northeast into Lipscomb County and struck the town of Lipscomb. From there, it crossed into Rankin County and killed at least 25 people near Mertens before crossing into Ellis County, where it destroyed the town of Ennis.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center said three more tornadoes were reported in other parts of the state. A tornado warning remains in effect through late Saturday. The warnings primarily cover portions of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. The severe weather is part of a robust system moving into the Southeast and is expected to bring damaging winds, heavy rains, and possible tornadoes.

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