Twenty injured as tornado tears through Australian towns

SYDNEY (AFP) - More than 20 people were injured when a tornado tore through communities in Australia, with witnesses saying on Friday that it felt like a bomb going off.

The fierce storm hit several towns in Victoria state late on Thursday.

"With an incident like this, there is always the potential to be faced with mass casualties. We were very grateful that we only had one person who was seriously injured," said Ambulance Victoria official Jon Byrne.

Most people suffered cuts and fractures after being hit by flying debris.

Reports said several houses were destroyed and many others damaged, while trees were ripped from the ground and power lines felled by winds estimated at up to 250km per hour.

"We were hanging on to the windows at home," Corowa Shire deputy mayor Daryl Davey told ABC radio.

"There was debris flying through the air... fences, BBQs, you name it... Everything was in the air at one stage ... It's just like a bomb went off."

Mr Max Steward, the post office manager at Barooga, said the tornado only lasted about five minutes.

"A couple of houses down the road ... were literally blown apart by the force of the wind," he said.

"It just came out of nowhere just like a low-flying aeroplane - it just roared though. Unbelievable it was."

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