An unusual wind storm has swept across the Bolivian cities of La Paz and El Alto, killing at least one person and causing widespread damage, destroying homes and power lines.

Raul Chuquimia, a 29-year-old labourer from capital La Paz, was killed on Thursday by a falling 22ft tree branch, according to local media reports.

Chuquimia, a father of three, was clearing another branch from the street when he was hit.

Television footage showed the 70-80 kph winds knocking over electricity posts and trees and tearing roof tiles off homes.

People struggled to walk through the winds and a thick cloud of dust hung over both cities.

Some residential areas to the east and west of La Paz were left without electricity.

"I never knew this could happen. I thought it was the rain but the strong winds brought a lot of dust," an unidentified street seller said, reflecting surprise expressed by many residents.

According to Bolivia's National Service of Meteorology and Hydrology, the storm was caused by a phenomenon called "convex cloud", which forms from water vapour carried by powerful upward air currents.

Source: Agencies