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Sunday, 29 October, 2000, 13:51 GMT
Victims relive tornado terror
Firemen in Bognor
Damage to property could cost 500,000
Bognor Regis was bathing in bright sunshine on Sunday morning - a very different scene to the day before.

Many residents of the West Sussex seaside town were relaxing indoors on Saturday afternoon, looking out at pouring rain outside.

But shortly after 1700BST the wet weather took a turn for the worse as a tornado ripped through the town leaving a trial of destruction in its wake.

The twister wreaked havoc over 1.5 miles through the western part of the town.

Rebecca Zugor
Rebecca Zugor: 'the noise was dreadful'
Among those who saw the tornado was 37-year-old Rebecca Zugor.

She was at her home, in Linden Road with her six-year-old son Stefan, when the wind hit.

"It was like a sheet of water hitting the front of the house. I knew immediately that it was a tornado so I just tried to grab hold of Stefan to take him into the back bedroom and hide under the bed so I could protect him.

"It was extremely frightening at the time. The glass from the windows were being ripped out, glass was absolutely everywhere and the noise was dreadful," she said.

Stefan was one of five people taken to hospital in Chichester where he was treated for minor cuts, from flying glass.

140 firefighters

Within minutes of the tornado hitting the phone started ringing at the fire station. Divisional Officer David Harrop said 100 calls were received and 140 firefighters were scrambled to the scene from around the county.

"We are just happy that no one was seriously injured, that there was no loss of life. I think the residents of Bognor can be grateful for that," he said.

Steve Jenkins
Steve Jenkins with the remains of his chimney
Around 100 houses were damaged in the tornado - mostly broken windows, collapsed chimneys and damaged roofs.

Insurance consultant Phil Morgan visited the worst affected areas on Sunday morning. He thinks the cost of repairing the damage could reach half a million pounds.

Several cars were also damaged by falling masonry and at the nearby Riverside Caravan Park a mobile home was flipped over.

The two women who were inside both needed hospital treatment for chest injuries.

It was sucking up the debris and throwing it all over the place

Edward Horton, eyewitness

Om Sunday hundreds of people were out in the sunshine clearing up the damage.

Edward Horton, 60, 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.

"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 a tremendous, if not a scary sight to see it so close."

A firefighter who was helping to oversee the operation said: "At least for a lot of people this has been more interesting than sitting in bed reading the Sunday papers."

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