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Tornado measured at 120 mph rips North Dakota mobile-home park; 9 hurt

N.D.tornado critically injures girl, injures 8 others at trailer home park for oilfield workers
Eight people sheltered, one hospitalized after tornado rips apart homes in North Dakota

A 15-year-old girl remained hospitalized and eight people woke up at a shelter Tuesday morning after a tornado struck a mobile-home park along North Dakota's booming oil fields.

The National Weather Service estimated winds reached 120 mph at the damage site, about six miles south of Watford City. The tornado traveled about half a mile, spanning a space 100 yards wide, in about 10 minutes, the service said.

Photos and videos from the area showed a fast-moving cell about 8 p.m. Monday dropping rain and hail, whipping dirt into the air and sprinkling lightning through a darkened sky.

All 15 mobile homes at Riley RV Park were damaged or destroyed, according to the McKenzie County sheriff's office.

Nine people were injured in total, though only the girl suffered critical injuries. A spokeswoman at Trinity Hospital in Minot said information about the hospitalized victim could not be confirmed until a parent or guardian arrived, which was expected later Tuesday.

The American Red Cross for the Dakotas region, which set up the shelter for the victims, said an emergency response vehicle was being sent to the area Tuesday. An unknown number of people sought refuge at local motels offering rooms. It's unclear whether the mobile homes would be fixed or replaced.

"I can't speak as to what the plans of the employers are right now as this is still relatively early in the response as damage assessments and long-term needs have yet to be determined," Red Cross spokesman Brian Shawn said. "I can tell you we will work with all state and county officials to assist in the long-term recovery of those affected by the tornado."

The oil drilling boom in North Dakota has left the state with the country's lowest unemployment rate, but some of the highest housing prices. As more apartment complexes spring up, workers have been relying on mobile homes and other temporary housing. These "man camps" of prefabricated structures tend to resembles dorms or barracks.

Tony Beyda, an oilfield worker, said he suffered a head wound and cuts on an arm when the tornado struck the complex Monday.

"I saw it come at me," Beyda told the Associated Press. "It peeled [my skin] back pretty good."

He had been trying to hide in the hallway of his mobile home.

"RVs ain't made for it," Beyda told the Grand Forks Herald. "It wasn't even a contest."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

2:02 p.m.: This post has been updated with the National Weather Service's estimate of the tornado's wind speed, size and duration.

 

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