Energy & Environment

Tornado rips through Pfizer medicine plant in North Carolina

A tornado ripped through a North Carolina city Wednesday, damaging a Pfizer pharmaceutical plant, several residential homes and roadways. 

The tornado touched down in the Rocky Mount area of North Carolina shortly after 12:30 p.m., leaving downed trees and power lines in its path, according to Nash County officials.

The National Weather Service of Raleigh said Wednesday night the damage found north of Rocky Mount is consistent with an EF3 tornado and wind speeds of 150 miles per hour.

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone confirmed the tornado damaged a Pfizer pharmaceutical plant in the Rocky Mount area, leaving medicine and debris strewn around the facility. 

Stone said the Pfizer plant holds large quantities of medicine, telling reporters, “I’ve got reports of 50,000 pallets of medicine that are strewn across the facility and damaged through the rain and the wind.” Stone said he has not been able to confirm the extent of damage.

In a statement to The Hill, Pfizer confirmed the damage to its Rocky Mount facility, noting staff followed safety protocol and were able to evacuate. The pharmaceutical company said all of its staff are safe and accounted for with no injuries reported.

“Our thoughts are with our colleagues, our patients and the community as we rebuild from this weather incident,” the statement read.

The pharmaceutical company said it is assessing the situation to determine how production will be impacted.

According to Pfizer’s website, the company’s Rocky Mount location is “one of the largest sterile injectable facilities in the world,” with around 25 percent of all sterile injectables used in U.S. hospitals being produced at the site. The location makes several products, including anesthesia, therapeutics and anti-infectives. 

The Nash County Sheriff’s Office also confirmed several homes were damaged, with six residents being treated on the scene by EMS and another two taken to the hospital. The twister caused several downed trees and power lines along highways, forcing officials to temporarily shut down both the north and south sides of I-95 in the area. 

Stone urged the public to stay off the roads while transportation and power crews work to repair the damage, which also included a gas leak. 

The National Weather Service said a tornado watch is in effect for nine North Carolina counties until 7 p.m. EST.

The tornado is the latest extreme weather event in recent days, as a dangerous heat wave continues in the Gulf Coast and Southwest and extreme flooding overwhelms the Northeast.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags North Carolina North Carolina tornado pfizer Tornado

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