iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Soumyajit Pattnaik, Hindustan Times
Bhubaneswar, April 02, 2009
It took five minutes for the tornado that hit Rajkanika block in Orissa’s coastal district of Kendrapara, 120 km from Bhubaneswar, to destroy everything that came in its way on Tuesday afternoon. Concrete roofs were ripped off and flung far away. A tractor was tossed up in the air and its driver was killed when it crashed into the ground. Other vehicles were tossed around like toys and dozens of houses razed to the ground.

The tornado devastated everything within its 200-metre swathe along 3 km. By the time it had gone, 15 people had been killed and nearly 200 injured in 13 villages.

The tornado wreaked its worst fury on four villages, leaving villages 200 metres away completely untouched.

“I was standing outside my house when it suddenly became very dark and a strong wind started blowing. I could see a huge column of black clouds spiralling towards me about 2 km away,” said Ashok Panda, a resident of Baghabuda village.

Amitabh Karan, a petrol pump owner in Rajkanika told HT, “I was returning to my village Sevasahi around 4.30pm when I suddenly heard a roar like the sound of 10 helicopters flying together. Then I saw a huge circular column of air nearly 500 metres in diameter extending from the ground to the sky. I had seen such a thing in National Geographic channel. I threw away my motorcycle and ran towards a small temple where I clutched a tree in utter desperation. The branches broke but I
was saved because the tree was not uprooted.”

Met office director S.C. Sahu told HT, “We have sent a team to the affected areas. I cannot tell you more on the wind speed and whether it was a tornado unless I get an official report. We don’t have any observatory in that area.”

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik and BJP leader L.K. Advani visited the affected villages located about 15 km from the sea.

(With PTI inputs from Rajkanika)