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Wyoming tornado injures eight people and flips buses and train cars at mine site, says report

CAMPBELL COUNTY, WYOMING (AP) – A tornado touched down at a mine in Wyoming on Friday evening, injuring eight people and knocking over employee transport buses and empty train cars at the facility, a news report said.

The tornado hit the North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Campbell County around 6pm during a storm complex that also delivered tornadoes to neighbouring Natrona and Johnson counties, the Gillette News Record reported.

The Campbell County Fire Department responded to the open-pit coal mine about 103 kilometres south of Gillette.

Six people with non-life-threatening injuries were transported by ambulance to Gillette, one victim was transported to Douglas and another refused treatment, the newspaper reported.

The tornado struck during a shift change and flipped buses waiting to transport workers, although it was not immediately clear if there was anyone on the vehicles at the time, Campbell County Public Information Officer Leslie Perkins said. All workers were accounted for after a search by the mine’s search and rescue team, which was assisted by the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said.

PHOTO: AFP

The storm also knocked over 12 unoccupied train cars, the News Record reported.

A meteorologist and hydrologist with the National Weather Service office in Rapid City, South Dakota Melissa Smith told the newspaper that the storm system scattered tornadoes throughout Campbell, Natrona and Johnson counties.

“The tornadoes would form, come down, stay on the ground and come back up,” Smith said.

Peabody Energy Inc, the operator of North Antelope Rochelle Mine with headquarters in St Louis and South Brisbane, Australia, confirmed six employees were being treated in hospitals as of 11pm on Friday and that all employees had been accounted for.

“Operations have been suspended until we can fully assess facility damages and begin the process of restarting safe operations,” Peabody said in a statement which did not provide specifics about the damage caused by the tornado.

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