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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Tornado homes could be bulldozed
Twenty people were injured as the high winds stripped houses of their roofs, uprooted trees, and knocked down walls.

Houses hit by a tornado in Birmingham might have to be knocked down because they are so badly damaged.

Twenty people were injured - three seriously - after winds of 130mph were recorded in Birmingham on Thursday.

The sudden storm damaged buildings and cars, uprooted trees, and took entire roofs off some homes in an area south of the city centre.

Hundreds of people were forced to stay in two centres overnight. Some may not return home until next week.

Paul Tilsley, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, told BBC News that while some people would be able to return home on Friday structural engineers would be checking badly damaged properties.

There has not been one of this strength in many years
Met Office

"We don't know the extent of the damage and it will only become apparent during the day when we have structural engineers out to look at properties and decided what action has to be taken," he said.

"We also have got trees to clear and there is a lot of debris still on minor roads which has to be cleared.

"Hopefully people will be able to return to those less affected properties today but it may be as early as next week for some people."

Emergency services worked alongside engineers overnight to clear tons of rubble and search properties.

Photo sent in by Sasha Roberts

Workers used dogs and specialist equipment to see if anyone had been trapped in damaged buildings.

"Hundreds" of properties in the Kings Heath area were damaged, council officials said.

West Midlands Fire Service said the areas affected by the tornado, which hit the area at 1445 BST, also included Moseley, Quinton, Balsall Heath and Sparkbrook.

Local residents have described their experiences to the BBC News website.

Insurance cover

"Cars were forced to the other side of the road, bins went through car windows. Leaves, tiles and glass were all across the road," Hockley resident Estelle Skidmore said.

"I got home to find one tree crashed onto the front of my house, another crashed from my garden into my neighbour's garden, and chimneys smashed to smithereens after falling off my neighbour's house," said Liz Munro from Moseley.

Tornado damage
Workers used specialist equipment to see if anyone had been trapped

Birmingham City Council set up shelters at Birmingham Sports Centre at Balsall Heath Road and Kings Heath Community Centre on Heathfield Road for people left temporarily homeless.

The Ambulance Service said patients had been taken to Heartlands Hospital, Selly Oak Hospital, and Dudley.

Insurers said household policies would cover most of the repairs. Car owners with fully comprehensive policies should also be able to make claims for damage.

"We have an average of 33 reports of tornadoes in the UK each year but these are especially rare in built-up areas and there has not been one of this strength in many years," said a Met Office spokesperson.

"City centres are not the natural habitat of a tornado; the tall buildings would normally stop their formation."

Residents stunned at destruction
29 Jul 05 |  West Midlands
Tornado is 'worst for 25 years'
29 Jul 05 |  West Midlands
In pictures: Tornado aftermath
29 Jul 05 |  In Pictures
Tornado injures 19 in Birmingham
28 Jul 05 |  West Midlands
Birmingham Tornado: Your accounts
29 Jul 05 |  Have Your Say
Tornado 'rips off a church roof'
28 Jul 05 |  Lincolnshire
In pictures: Birmingham tornado
28 Jul 05 |  In Pictures
Tornado strikes in Peterborough
29 Jul 05 |  Cambridgeshire


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