At least 20 people were killed and over 200 others injured as a tornado tore through three upazilas in Brahmanbaria yesterday evening.
The twister left a trail of destruction in 20 villages of Brahmanbaria sadar, Bijoynagar and Akhaura upazilas.
Rain and hail accompanied the tornado, which razed over 150 houses in 15 minutes beginning around 5:30pm, said locals.
The control room at the office Brahmanbaria superintendent of police told The Daily Star the death toll was 20 as of 12:30am today.
Comilla-Sylhet highway remained closed, as uprooted trees and wrecked vehicles littered the road.
Md Mohsin Bhuiyan, who is in charge of Akhaura Railway Junction locomotive shed, said rail communications between the capital and three districts — Chittagong, Sylhet and Noakhali — were suspended, as tracks were blocked by trees felled by the fierce storm.
At least five people were killed in Brahmanbaria sadar upazila, five more in Akhaura upazila, and three on Comilla-Sylhet highway when trees collapsed on vehicles and some vehicles lost control and crashed during the storm.
Dolly Rani, 30, of Patirhata village and Sumi Akhter, 10, and Joynal Mia, 32, of Jarultola village, Abu Taher Miah, 60, of Mohammadpur village, and Janu Chowdhury, 52, of Chinair of sadar upazila, and Lovely Akhter, 35, of Pattan union in Bijoynagar upazila were among the dead.
A wall of Brahmanbaria jail partially collapsed when the tornado hit. Jail keeper Masudur Rahman, 25, was killed on impact.
The identities of the rest of the deceased could not be known immediately.
Most of the injured were rushed to the 250-bed Brahmanbaria Sadar Hospital.
Doctor Abu Sayed of the hospital said several unidentified bodies were in the morgue.
The deputy commissioner of the district said five people had died in Brahmanbaria Sadar Hospital alone. He promised Tk 20,000 for the families of those killed, and Tk 5,000, one bundle of corrugated iron sheets and 20kg of rice for those injured as immediate relief.
Sources said eager-to-help locals closed TA Road of the district town for all traffic to allow smooth passage of the injured to the hospital.
Upazila Health Officer Shah Alam of Akhaura upazila health complex said they had five deaths at the healthcare centre.
Storm survivor Nizam of Gaingahata village said, “It came out of nowhere and destroyed everything … nothing is left. It struck with rain and hail. We found ourselves rolling in the mud moments later.”
The worst affected villages were Ghatiara, Chandpur, Paghachang, Bhatshala, Sultanpur, Senda, Shilaour, Urshiura, Gaingah, Ujnishar, Jibantula, Chinair, and Gaingahata of Brahmanbaria, and Merashani of Bijoynagar, and Azampur of Akhaura.
The tornado hit an area of the district where the three upazilas share borders with each other.
Border Guard Bangladesh 12 Battalion commanding officer Lt Col Maksudul Alam said nine BGB teams including a medical team had been deployed in the affected areas and an army team was on standby.
Meanwhile, Fire Service and Civil Defence officials said around 50 firemen from five stations were engaged in the rescue efforts and clearing the roads of debris.