Texas panhandle town hit by tornado, deaths reported

A view of a damaged site in Perryton as the town gets struck by a tornado, in Texas, U.S. June 15, 2023, in this screengrab obtained from a social media video. Sabrina Devers via TMX/via REUTERS

By Brad Brooks

LUBBOCK, Texas (Reuters) – The Texas panhandle town of Perryton was struck on Thursday by one or more tornadoes, causing fatalities, the mayor said, as images from the ground showed much of the town left in rubble by the twister as emergency crews searched for survivors.

“It’s bad, it’s very bad. It’s non-stop crazy. It couldn’t have hit in a more vulnerable place,” Mayor Kerry Symons said by telephone, adding that he would be unable to say how many people had died until Friday morning.

ABC’s Amarillo affiliate KVII-TV, citing Perryton fire chief Paul Dutcher, reported that at least three people were killed.

The Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton, a town of 8,000 people, had yet to receive any dead, but some people with life-threatening injuries were transferred to larger medical centers in Amarillo, Debbie Beck, the hospital’s chief financial officer, said by telephone.

Beck said that up to 100 people with injuries ranging from scratches to a collapsed lung were treated at the hospital in Perryton. She did not know how many had been transferred to Amarillo.

At least 30 trailer homes were damaged or destroyed in Perryton, KVII-TV reported, and firefighters were still rescuing victims at 6 p.m. It said the town may have been struck by three tornadoes.

Images from the ground in Perryton, about 110 miles (180 km) northeast of Amarillo close to the Oklahoma state line, showed homes torn apart and left in rubble.”Jane & I are praying for the people of Perryton tonight. I am in contact with Mayor Symons and this tragedy is being closely monitored by myself and my whole staff,” U.S. Representative Ronny Jackson, a Republican from Texas, said on Twitter.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a written statement that he was deploying the state’s emergency response teams to the area, including resources from an emergency medical task force, along with search and rescue teams.

(Reporting by Brad Brooks; Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Costas Pitas, Stephen Coates, Simon Cameron-Moore and William Mallard)

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