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March 22 2013 6 22 /03 /March /2013 04:40

Twenty people have been injured after storms and mini-tornadoes pelted northeast Victoria. (AAP)

 

Tornadoes injure 20 people

 

A tornado has swept through Victoria's northeast, injuring 20 people and sending roofs, verandahs and debris flying.

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

 

The fierce storms hit the Murray River towns of Bundalong, Yarrawonga, Mulwala, Rutherglen, Koonoomoo and Cobram about 8pm (AEDT) on Thursday.

 

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," Mr Keenan told AAP on Friday.

 

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."

 

Mr 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," Mr 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.

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