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.