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Dhaka (AFP) March 23, 2013
A powerful tornado ripped through more than a dozen rural villages in eastern Bangladesh late Friday, killing at least 20 people and injuring more than 100, officials said.
The tornado wrecked havoc in Brahmanbaria district over a 15-minute period, authorities said, uprooting thousands of trees and flattened hundreds of tin and mud-built houses in the area, and snapping road and rail communication with affected villages.
"The death toll is now 20, including women and children. At least 100 people are injured," government district administrator Nur Mohammad told AFP. He said local authorities have launched relief and rescue operations in the region.
"It was so powerful that it overturned dozens of motor vehicles and big trucks," he added, saying those who died were mostly hit by fallen trees or collapsed walls.
District police chief M. Moniruzzaman said of the 100 people hospitalised, up to 12 people were in a critical condition.
"Many of the injured were rushed to hospitals in cities including the capital Dhaka," he told AFP.
Bangladesh is hit by powerful storms and tornadoes from March to mid-May just ahead of the four-month-long wet monsoon season, often killing scores and in some years hundreds of people in rural villages.
South China prepares for more storms after 24 die
The extreme weather will continue until Sunday, the China Meteorological Centre said, after parts of the country were battered by huge hailstorms and heavy rain which caused widespread devastation and a ferry to capsize.
"All parts of southern China should take measures to be on guard against the negative influence of thunder and lightning, high wind and hail," the meteorological centre said.
The storms began on Tuesday, but climaxed the following day when a ferry overturned in a river in the city of Nanping, in the south-eastern province of Fujian, killing 11 people.
Chinese newspapers Friday showed images of overturned cars and flattened buildings from Dongguan, in Guangdong province in the south, the scene of nine deaths during the storm.
The city was hit by a "super tornado" on Wednesday afternoon, making it difficult for emergency response teams to react, the China Daily said, citing a local official.
Force eight winds swept through the area, the newspaper added.
Online news reports showed images of egg-sized hailstones and car windows smashed by the force of the storm. Other reports said the strong winds had caused a refrigerator to be blown from a store, narrowly missing a passing motorist.
Most of the deaths in Dongguan were caused by residential buildings collapsing.
Across the storm region a total of 2,000 structures collapsed and 248,000 were damaged, media reported.
Local authorities in Nanping said they were continuing to investigate the number of missing from the ferry accident. The official Xinhua news agency said four people had not been found.
Other provinces affected by storms and torrential rain were nearby Jiangxi, Hunan in central China and Guizhou in the southwest.
About 215,000 people were evacuated from their homes and the economic loss is estimated at 1.31 billion yuan ($210 million), the China Daily cited the ministry of civil affairs as saying.
Weather News at TerraDaily.com
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