Devastating Matador, Texas, tornado leaves 4 dead, 9 injured, officials say

At least four people have been killed, and nine others were injured when a tornado ripped through the town of Matador, Texas, Wednesday evening, according to local officials.

According to Derek Delgado, the Public Information Officer with Lubbock Fire Rescue, everyone is currently accounted for, and search and rescue efforts resumed at first light Thursday morning.

Initially, 10 people were reported to be injured, but one of the tornado victims died at the hospital, bringing the total number of injured to nine.

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Drone video shows extensive damage after a deadly tornado in Matador, Texas, on June 21, 2023. (Lubbock Fire Rescue/Twitter)

This is now the deadliest tornado in Texas since the deadly Dallas County tornado in 2015, according to the National Weather Service.

"Coming in last night from Lubbock, coming in from the south, you really had to pass everything in order to get to where all the command post vehicles were," Delgado said on FOX Weather Thursday morning. "It was truly something I’ve never seen in my career, just the amount of emergency crews from around the state that have come together to help this town is truly remarkable."

But also, Delgado continued, the emotional toll of what took place is something that will affect residents well into the future.

"These people’s livelihoods, we had a restaurant, you know, completely torn apart. We had doors broken down, residences, you know, demolished," he said. "It’s truly devastating, especially with a town this size."

Texas Gov. Greg on Thursday updated the state's disaster declaration to include Matador and other Texas communities that were impacted by severe weather and tornadoes that caused significant damage to homes and businesses.

"There is no force more powerful than Texans helping Texans, and this updated disaster declaration will help the State of Texas swiftly respond to communities devastated by last night’s severe weather and tornadoes in West Texas," Abbott said in a statement. "I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me as we pray for the Matador community and families who tragically lost a loved one during last night’s horrific storm. I thank all of our brave first responders and emergency response personnel who are working to help their fellow Texans navigate the aftermath of this severe weather event."

Matador has a population of around 571 and is located about 60 miles east-northeast of Lubbock in northwestern Texas.

Much of Matador remains without power due to the severe weather that rolled through Texas and the Plains on Wednesday. Severe thunderstorms also rolled through the Houston metro area, where there were reports of tree damage and widespread power outages. A record 97-mph wind gust was also measured at Houston's Intercontinental Airport.

"The town of Matador has experienced an unprecedented tornado bringing damaging winds to the town," Lubbock Fire Rescue said in a statement on Twitter. "Agencies from across the South Plains have assisted with search and rescue efforts. These agencies include police, fire and EMS. State resources have arrived to Matador to begin post-disaster operations, including damage assessment and final recovery efforts."

In addition, Lubbock Fire Rescue said a cooling center has been opened in Matador because of the expected excessive heat on Thursday.

Tornado death toll surpasses 2022 total

It’s been a deadly year for tornadoes in 2023, with the total number of tornado-related deaths surpassing the final count in 2022, and we’re only halfway through the year.

The four killed in Matador on Wednesday brings the total number killed by tornadoes so far this year to 73.

Eight of those were reported this past week alone, with three killed in Perryton, Texas, and one in Jasper County, Mississippi.

Last year, 23 people were killed by tornadoes.

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