A devastating tornado has ripped through Texas leaving at least three dead, two missing and dozens more injured.
The Lone Star State’s Panhandle town of Perryton was pummeled by a severe storms on Thursday, destroying trailer homes and downing communications towers.
As thousands of homes – and a major hospital – were left without power and residents were feared missing in the rubble, Governor Greg Abbott directed state emergency response resources to assist the hard-hit town.
Perryton Fire Chief Paul Dutcher told reporters that three people had so far been confirmed dead from the storm.
One of the victims was killed when the mobile home park they lived in took a “direct hit” from a tornado, he said.
As rescue teams search for survivors in the rubble, at least 30 trailers were said to be damaged or destroyed.
Around 100 people are believed to have been injured in the storm, with injuries ranging from minor to severe with many being transferred to trauma centers, the police chief said.
The National Weather Service in Amarillo confirmed that a tornado hit the area Thursday afternoon but there was no immediate word on its size or wind speeds.
First responders from surrounding areas and from Oklahoma descended on the town, which is home to more than 8,000 people and about 115 miles (185 kilometres) northeast of Amarillo, just south of the Oklahoma line.
Storm chaser Brian Emfinger told Fox Weather that he watched the twister move through a mobile home park, mangling trailers and uprooting trees.
“I had seen the tornado do some pretty serious destruction to the industrial part of town,” he said.
“Unfortunately, just west of there, there is just mobile home, after mobile home, after mobile home that is completely destroyed. There is significant damage.”
More than 224,000 customers were without power in Texas as of around 3.30am CT local time on Friday morning, according to the poweroutage.us website.
In Ochiltree County – home to Perryton – a staggering 91 percent (8,910 of 9,775) of customers were without power.
Xcel Energy told ABC News late on Thursday night that there was no power at all to Perryton.
“Our crews are arriving on site and are assisting in removing lines from cars and across the roads. We are patrolling the transmission feeds into the city and also assessing possible damage at the main substation in town,” Xcel Energy said in a statement.
“One of the three main transmission feeds into the city was apparently undamaged, but we deenergized it for safety reasons.”
Additional reporting from The Associated Press
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