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Page last updated at 19:01 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 20:01 UK

Lethal storm batters India state

An injured woman in Orissa
Local hospitals were overwhelmed by the number of injured people

More than 12 people are feared dead and over 200 injured after a tornado hit the eastern Indian state of Orissa, officials say.

They say the tornado lasted about one hour and hit 11 villages in the Rajkanika area of the state with winds of about 120km/h (74mph).

"We have received bodies of eight persons killed in the tornado," local official Ranjan Kumar Das told the BBC.

Tornados are common at this time of the year in this region of India.

"We have not been able to ascertain the exact number of deaths as it is completely dark and fallen trees have made movement into the interior areas very difficult," Mr Das said.

The BBC's Sandeep Sahu in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, says that the tornado damaged over 300 houses, adding significantly to the number of injured.

Map

Our correspondent says that the plight of those injured has been made worse because the local hospital at Rajkanika is not equipped to handle so many people. Many of them had to be rushed to hospitals in nearby towns.

Power lines and communication networks are reported not to be working in the area hit by the storm, making the rescue operation even more difficult.

Both the local administration and people on the ground appear to have been taken completely by surprise by the storm, our correspondent says, as there was no prior warning sounded by the weather department.



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