Story highlights

At least 20 killed, 200 hurt in 15 villages, officials say

Toppled trees, utility poles block roads to some affected areas

Residents say thousands rendered homeless

Dhaka, Bangladesh CNN  — 

At least 20 people were killed and more than 200 injured when a powerful tornado ripped through the southeastern district of Brahmanbaria in Bangladesh late Friday afternoon, officials said.

“We’ve confirmed 20 deaths so far after the violent storm that wreaked havoc on at least 15 villages in the district,” Brahmanbaria administrative chief Nur Mohammad Mazumder told CNN.

Mazumder feared the death toll might rise, as rescuers could not reach all the affected areas. Brahmanbaria is 100 miles from the capital, Dhaka.

TV footage showed fallen trees and scattered debris. Many tin- and mud-built houses and other structures were flattened, and hundreds of utility poles were toppled.

Officials said a portion of the district jail collapsed, killing a jail employee.

Witnesses said all it happened within 15 minutes as a whirlwind tore through the villages, leaving a trail of devastation.

Mazumder said local hospitals were crowded with injured villagers and it was difficult to move from one place to another as many of the roads were blocked by fallen trees.

Local residents said thousands of people were rendered homeless, and power was out across a wide area.

Crops, mostly rice, were damaged across a vast swath of land, officials said. They did not have an economic estimate of the damage.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered immediate measures for relief and rehabilitation.