India tornado leaves 14 dead, thousands homeless

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New Delhi_(dpa) _ The death toll in the tornado that caused devastation in villages across India's eastern coastal state of Orissa rose to 14 Wednesday, officials said, adding that nearly 4,000 people were rendered homeless.

Nearly 200 people sustained injuries in Tuesday night's storm, which struck 11 villages in the Kendrapara region, about 80 kilometres north-east of the state capital, Bhubaneshwar.

The police said the toll might rise further because two villagers were in serious condition at hospital.

Meanwhile, local village councils said more people could be trapped under the debris of their homes and at least 20 people were suspected to have perished.

The tornado that raged for almost one and a half hours wrought havoc in the region. It damaged about 700 houses, uprooted electrical poles and trees, and snapped telephone and power lines.

"We estimate that about 5,000 people were affected," Kendrapara Superintendent of Police Kumarmani Meher said by telephone, adding that 3,800 to 3,900 have gone to shelters for help after the storm.

The twister tossed several vehicles around like toys, the IANS news agency reported. In one of the villages, a tractor crashed to the ground after being lifted into the air by the storm. Its driver was killed.

The tornado was followed by a heavy hail storm and rain. The state administration dispatched rescue and relief teams, but the rescuers were not able to reach the affected areas for several hours because uprooted trees had blocked roads. dpa sk im ls

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