At least three people were injured on Wednesday when a tornado hit a natural gas drilling rig in northern Texas, the Hemphill County sheriff and a hospital official said. One victim sustained minor injuries, the second had non-life-threatening injuries to the face, and the third suffered “an impalement to the abdomen,” Hemphill County Sheriff James Pearson said in a statement.
Two of the more seriously injured were transported to a hospital in Amarillo and one was treated at Hemphill County Hospital in Canadian, Hemphill Hospital Chief Executive Christy Francis said. The patient who remained at Hemphill County Hospital was in stable condition, Francis said. The drilling rig is near Canadian, a town of nearly 3,000 residents that is about 100 miles (160 km) northeast of Amarillo in the Texas panhandle.
Pearson said highways were closed due to debris from downed trees and flooding. There was no word on the rig’s operations but Pearson said there was “extensive damage to the doghouses,” the general-purpose rooms adjacent to the rig floor. Storms have battered Texas this week, killing at least 15 people in weather-related incidents, including six in Houston.
The death toll in the state was expected to rise, with about a dozen people still missing and a new round of thunderstorms pelting the already flooded cities of Houston and Austin.