April 18: The storm that ripped through 14 villages in the Joypur and Kotolpur areas of Bishnupur subdivision in Bankura yesterday afternoon was a tornado, said district authorities.

One person was killed and 100 people had to be hospitalised. Some of them were said to be in serious condition. Most of the injured are being treated at the Bankura Medical College Hospital and the Bishnupur Subdivisional Hospital. Officials said Sabitri Chachchari, 40, was killed when an uprooted electric pole hit her on the head. District CPM secretary Amiya Patra said the storm claimed another life when an asbestos sheet hit a man in the throat.

Trucks were used to bring the injured to hospital after the twister blew over the area around 4.30

pm. "Many were released after being swathed in bandages. Residents cannot recall any other

instance of such devastation," said subdivisional officer Kaushik Haldar Twenty-four-year-old Ashoke Pramanick was literally lifted from doorstep and hurled against a wooden bench. "The youth was again sucked in by the whirlwind and hurled into a pond. He has multiple injuries. I have spoken to him. He is still in a state of shock," said the officer.

District magistrate G.A. Khan, Haldar and other senior district officials are camping in the area. The affected villages include Bikrampur, Kulshayar, Dhonshayar, Hijoldiha, Daspara, Aina, Mahishbadi, Chakmohammad and Dhajanarayanpur. Officials said about 1,000 families were rendered homeless. The first floor of a two-storeyed building with an asbestos roof was lopped off in the five-minute fury. "Sheets of tin and asbestos and even bullock carts flew off, some kilometres away. Tin roofs lay perched on treetops or hung dangerously from electric cables after the tornado. Water from the ponds was sucked up and fish lay scattered on fields," said the officer. A lot of cattle was also lost. Vast areas plunged into darkness and communication links collapsed as most electric and telephone poles were uprooted.