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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK
Tornado hits Birmingham
Tornado damage
Hundreds of properties were left damaged and trees uprooted
Residents have camped out in two sports centres in Birmingham after their homes were damaged by a tornado.

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

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

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

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

On Breakfast we reported live from the city and spoke to Counciloor Paul Tilsley of Birmingham City Council.

Councillor Tilsley said that many residents would have to wait until structural engineers had visited their homes today to check whether they were safe to return to.

Emergency shelters

"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.

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

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

"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.

Birmingham City Council set up a 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."




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