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The BBC's Jon Kay
"A mini tornado, but major damage"
 real 56k

Cliff Sears, West Sussex fire brigade
"It has been a very difficult job for us"
 real 56k

Sunday, 29 October, 2000, 13:57 GMT
UK braced for storms
Tornado damage
Emergency services help with urgent repairs
Forecasters are warning of more severe weather across the country as residents of the seaside town of Bognor Regis clean up after a tornado.

Several people were hurt, houses, caravans and cars were damaged and trees uprooted as the tornado struck the West Sussex resort at about 1730BST on Saturday.

Local people described scenes of total chaos in the town centre as the wind cut a swathe of destruction about 1.5 miles long.

Emergency worker
Bad weather has returned to southern England
The Environment Agency (EA) says there is the chance of serious flooding in parts of southern England on Sunday as rains and strong winds sweep through from the West Country.

Forecasters say storm force 10 winds are possible along the southern coast of England on Sunday evening.

After clear spells, conditions will deteriorate drastically with up to two inches (50mm) of rain likely to hit Wales, the South West and the south coast.

The EA has issued Flood Watches for the weekend high tides between Milford on Sea to Calshot in Hampshire. Lymington, Keyhaven, Pennington, and Milford on Sea are the most at risk areas.

Bulldozers are working round the clock bolstering sea defences at the vulnerable areas of Selsey in West Sussex and Pevensey, East Sussex.

It trailed through the town causing sheer devastation

Resident Paul Wells
The weather forecast for Sunday and Monday suggests that Britain will remain in the grip of a low pressure zone.

As well as strong winds and heavy rain, temperatures are also due to drop steadily throughout the week.

Scotland bore the worst of the weather overnight, with high winds overturning a Cessna 172 jet at Edinburgh airport just before 0200GMT on Sunday.

The aeroplane was parked and nobody was on board, firefighters said.

The strong winds also closed the Tay road bridge between Dundee.

'Absolute havoc'

Emergency services said the Bognor tornado strike had been declared a major incident and was "much, much worse" than the tornado at nearby Selsey in January 1998.

Most of the damage was superficial
Initial reports suggested a caravan at the Riverside Caravan Centre in the town's Aldwick area was lifted into the air and dropped on to another parked nearby.

Eyewitnesses described how Saturday's tornado moved across the town towards the seafront.

Paul Wells, who lives in Bognor, said the tornado caused "absolute havoc".

He said: "It trailed through the town causing sheer devastation.

"It started near Tesco at the top of town then headed down towards the seafront and finally it went out towards the sea.

"It's put in windows, taken off roof tiles, and it has uprooted some trees by the football pitch. You could hear the sheer force of the wind. I've never seen anything like it."

The tornado must have been 60 or 70ft high. It was sucking up the debris and throwing it all over the place

Resident Edward Horton
Mark Tilley, 27, of Linden Road, said: "It hit us very suddenly. There was a noise and then a kind of silence before it came through and across our road.

"It was very scary seeing it smash its way through the houses here but we are so lucky. My car was smashed up and it's got broken windows and dented bodywork but our house is virtually untouched."

Edward Horton, 60, Highland Avenue said: "I was looking out of my window and I heard this huge bang and so I went outside. The tornado must have been 60 or 70ft high.

Damaged house
Linden Road took the brunt of the wind
" It was sucking up the debris and throwing it all over the place.

"The strangest thing is it just went straight over the houses ripping up the trees in the cemetery. It was like it had mown a big corridor about 40ft wide."

Earlier this month much of Sussex suffered serious flooding in the heaviest rains for several years.

And in 1999 a large section of Bognor's famous Victorian pier was wrecked when the coast was lashed by high tides.

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See also:

04 May 99 | World
Nature at its most powerful
08 Nov 99 | UK
Two injured in 'tornado'
29 Oct 00 | Scotland
Storms batter Scotland
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