Orissa tornado leaves 13 dead, thousands homeless (Lead)

April 1st, 2009 - 7:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bhubaneswar, April 1 (IANS) The death toll in the unseasonal tornado that hit Orissa Tuesday rose to 13 with the recovery of five more bodies Wednesday, officials said adding that nearly 4,000 people had been rendered homeless.
“Five more dead bodies were found on Wednesday,” district sub-collector Ranjan Kumar Das told IANS.

Those killed include five men, seven women and a minor girl.

The tornado followed by hailstorm and rain wreaked havoc in at least 11 villages of Rajkanika block in the coastal district of Kendrapada. It struck at around 4.30 p.m. Tuesday and continued for nearly one-and-a-half hours.

It took several hours for relief and rescue teams to reach the affected villages because a large number of uprooted trees blocked the way.

Officials said the number of injured admitted to hospitals is nearly 200. More than 5,000 people located within a six kilometre area were affected by the disaster.

Das said that the numbers of houses damaged numbered over 1,000. Nearly 4,000 people who have taken shelter in nearby school buildings have lost their houses, he added.

The official said that those who have taken shelter are being provided free cooked food which they will continue to get for the next three days.

The twister was so strong that several vehicles were tossed around like toys. At Arasa village, a tractor crashed to the ground after being lifted into the air by the storm. The driver was killed on the spot.

Leaders of various political parties, including Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, visited the affected area Wednesday. Advani is on a two-day trip to the state for the poll campaign.

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