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Wednesday, August 18, 1999 Published at 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK


Lightning strike kills golfer

Lightning and mini-tornados struck several parts of the country

A golfer was killed and another man injured after being struck by lightning during a severe thunderstorm.

The men were playing a round at Chigwell Golf Course, near Hainault, north east London, on Wednesday afternoon when the accident happened.

Police have named the dead man as Tony Ronson, 50, of Nurstead Road, Meopham, Kent.

His 47-year-old golfing partner, who has not been named, was taken to King George's Hospital, Ilford, suffering from shock and burns. His condition is described as stable.

Tornadoes cause havoc

Several other parts of the UK were also hit by high winds, thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Weather forecast
In Hampton, Middlesex, decorator Paul Hayes watched a mini-tornado rip the roof off a social club opposite his flat and slam into the side of his van.

"One minute it was raining then it started to get a bit heavier. I came to the door and saw the roof flying past," said Mr Hayes, 42, who lives opposite the Old Hamptonians' Club in Pigeon Lane.

"It went straight into the side of my van."

Brian Littlejohn, 55, the club's manager, was behind the bar when the tornado struck shortly before noon.

He said: "I saw the door start blowing in the wind as the wind got up.

"Suddenly there was a great whoosh and dust came flying from the corridor. It took the felt off the roof. I went outside and saw things flying around."

A tree and lamppost were blown down and several other roofs were also damaged.

Twister devastation

Earlier a similar twister struck around Battle and Sedlescombe, East Sussex, damaging several roofs and scattering items from a garden centre across a road.

Pc Paul Beazer, of Hastings Police, said: "At around 0300 it would appear that a mini-tornado with high winds and torrential rain hit the Sedlescombe area."

But poor weather was not confined to the south.

Heart surgeon Ghandhi Somasundram and his wife Daniella were woken in the early hours by a lightning bolt that hit their home in Heaton, Newcastle.

The couple were stunned to see a fireball outside an upstairs window.

Their three children - Kevin, four, Julian, three, and eighteen-month-old Ryan - had to be comforted as the violent storm continued to rage overhead.

Mrs Somasundram, 30, who moved to the area from Malaysia recently, said: "It has not put us off Newcastle but my relatives back home think it is a sign that we should move to a new house."

British summertime

The incidents came on top of the numerous thunderstorms and torrential rain that have brought flooding to several areas of Britain in August.

But weather forecaster Neil Talboys, insisted there was nothing "freakish" about the conditions.

He said: "What you have to remember is the English summer, as they say, is two hot days and a thunderstorm.

"We have been spoilt by the good weather in July and people have short memories. They expect it to stay like that, and when it doesn't they think it is the end of the world.

"When we come to the end of the month we have areas with huge rainfall but when you add up the total and divide by the number of stations you tend to come up with something that is not very interesting."

The forecaster added: "People expect Mediterranean weather every year but we don't live in the Mediterranean."

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