AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A wellhead exploded in a hail of shrapnel at a west Texas oil field near the New Mexico border on Wednesday, killing two workers and injuring nine others, a spokesman for the Loving County Sheriff’s Office said.
A work crew was changing or installing equipment on the wellhead when a buildup of pressure set off the blast, which was heard several miles away at the Red Bluff Reservoir on the Pecos River, Sergeant Deputy Chris Busse told Reuters.
“The piping and metal blew off that thing, and it was just like shrapnel,” he said, adding that there was no drilling rig set up at the site.
Two men, both in their 40s, were pronounced dead at the scene following the explosion, which occurred at about 8:30 a.m. local time near Orla, Texas, roughly 10 miles south of the New Mexico border.
Nine other workers were injured, but all were treated at the scene after they declined to be transported to the hospital, he said.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting and writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Ken Wills