Australia: Tornado batters Victoria’s NE, injuring 20, leaving some towns devastated & 300 homeless – 220313 1850z

A tornado has battered Victoria’s northeast, injuring 20 people and leaving some towns looking like a bomb has exploded

(Video credit: Youtube user Jtec777 Tornado in Yarrawonga, Victoria, Australia)

The fierce storms hit the Murray River towns of Bundalong, Yarrawonga, Mulwala, Rutherglen, Koonoomoo and Cobram last night. Moira Shire Mayor Brian Keenan says he’s never seen such extensive damage in his four decades as a SES and CFA brigade leader.

He says several houses at Bundalong, home to about 300 people, have been destroyed and most others are damaged. “It is absolutely incredible. You would think an atom bomb went off,” Keenan said. He said massive trees were ripped out of the ground and several hundred metres of power lines had fallen. “How there wasn’t lives lost is beyond me,” he said. Further west, Barooga Post Office manager Max Steward said the storm lasted only five minutes and ripped the back verandah off, blowing it about 30 metres into the street. “It just was like a mini tornado,” he said. “A couple of houses down the road … were literally blown apart by the force of the wind.”

Steward, 65, said there was no warning the storm was about to strike. “It just came out of nowhere just like a low-flying aeroplane – it just roared though,” he said. He said after five minutes the wind died down. “You can look out our window here and see the bush between here and Cobram and it’s just like a lawnmower has gone across the top of the trees – trees that were 60 foot high, or they were.

Unbelievable it was.” Barooga Sports Club assistant chief executive Greg Ferguson said hundreds of trees at the Cobram Barooga Golf Club were uprooted and flung across the fairways. Part of the club roof was torn off, the windows blown-in and a section of the ceiling collapsed. “There is a section of a roof in one of our trees near the first tee that has got to be about six or seven metres square,” Ferguson said. One third of the building remained closed however one course remained open, he said.

Twenty people were injured, with most treated at the Yarrawonga Hospital, while four with more serious injuries were flown to Melbourne. State Control Centre forecaster Tony Bannister said tornadoes of such force were not unheard of but rare for Victoria. He said initial reports suggested the tornado would have involved winds of between 180 and 250km/h. Two men in their 50s were flown to Melbourne hospitals in critical conditions. Both were suffering head injuries while one also had pelvic and abdominal injuries.

Friday, 22 March, 2013 at 04:10 (04:10 AM) UTC RSOE

News Reports

Two Australian men made a dramatic escape from a tornado in New South Wales after the twister touched down only metres from their car.

Daniel Clarke, 24, told Australia’s 7 News channel how he was driving from the town of Mulwala to nearby Barooga when the tornado, which was around 50 metres wide at its base, appeared in a field next to them.

Nearby power lines exploded with a blue flash as they were hit by the whirling column of air.

With rain and debris hammering the windscreen as the tornado advances towards them, Mr Clarke reverses at speed before performing a hand-brake turn in the road.

But the twister continues to barrel through the adjoining field, travelling almost parallel to their car at a speed of approximately 50mph.

More here: telegraph.co.uk

Twenty people have been hospitalised, with one man in a critical condition suffering a fractured skull, after a series of tornadoes swept across Victoria’s northeast and fierce winds lashed the rest of the state.

Caravans were upended, roofs ripped off houses and buildings damaged as the tornado hit about 8pm (NZDT) yesterday, an SES spokesman said.

The tornado swept along Murray River townships near Bundalong, Rutherglen and Yarrawonga.

The SES fielded 60 calls for help in the region with 20 people hospitalised for injuries, according to the Herald Sun.

The newspaper also reported that a series of “mini-tornadoes” had hit the region. The injuries and damage in northeast Victoria came as strong winds felled trees and damaged buildings across the state.

The SES spokesman said the greatest trauma risk was from falling buildings and roofs.

“It becomes dangerous and deadly debris,” he said.

While the weather appeared to be a tornado, authorities had not yet officially confirmed it, the SES spokesman said.

“It definitely has tornado-like patterns. Certainly that’s what it looks like,” he said. He said powerlines in the area are likely to be down.

SES volunteers have responded to more than 750 calls across the state since midnight on Wednesday amid wind gusts exceeding 100km/h.

Strong winds had hit Healesville, Nunawading and outer eastern metropolitan Melbourne, but the damage has been widespread.” – news.msn.co.nz

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