Tornado leaves 30 dead, over 600 hurt in B’desh

Agence France Presse

Dhaka, April 15:

A tornado tore through several villages in northern Bangladesh overnight, levelling houses and sending villagers literally flying, officials said today, giving a death toll of 30 with more than 600 hurt.

Police originally said the winds which ripped up trees and flattened homes in the northern districts of Mymensingh and Netrokona late yesterday were a seasonal storm, but weather officials today said it was a tornado.

A police officer in Netrokona district said by telephone that at least 12 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured.

Some of the injured had suffered broken bones after being thrown through the air by the force of the storm.

"Many of them are in hospitals in Netrokona and nearby districts and the actual toll will be clearer by tomorrow as rescue workers are still sifting through debris," the officer said.

She said rescue workers were also searching rice paddy fields, ponds and rivers for people reported missing.

"It was a tornado as people saw a funnel which pulled up whatever came in its path, including some villagers, before throwing them miles away," the officer said.

Some people, she added, had been dropped by the storm in ponds or rivers and had drowned as a result.

Badrul Haider Patwary, chief of aid operation in Mymensingh district, said by telephone that so far 18 bodies had been recovered there.

Around 270 people had been hospitalised, he said.

"We are rushing cash, rice, corrugated tin for making homes and clothes to the affected areas," he said, adding a number of government ministers were already in the area.

Rescue workers have fanned out across the affected villages, officials said.