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> Tornado Strikes London

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Posted: Dec 8 2006, 04:03 PM
Quote Post
Tornado wrecks London street
7th December 2006
Daily Mail
It looks like a scene from the Blitz but this was the trail of devastation after a twister tore through northwest London today.

user posted image

The side of one house was completely ripped off and the car parked outside destroyed after debris was thrown hundreds of feet into the air.

At least six people were injured as the high winds smashed windows, sending glass flying, and tiles were blown off roofs. Stunned residents said the aftermath of the twister looked like a "war zone".

One man was taken to hospital with a head injury and five people were treated at the scene for minor injuries and shock.

Residents told how they ran in terror from their houses in Whitmore Gardens and Chamberlayne Road in Kensal Rise as the tornado struck. Miko Adam said: "There were some lightning strikes and then suddenly, out of nowhere, this cyclone whipped up. It was terrifying. I was in my attic and had to crawl under the bed up there.

"It only lasted about 10 seconds but they were the longest of my life. I never thought I would experience this kind of weather in this country," he said.

"My neighbour Fiona had the entire side of her house ripped off. She ran out into the road after it happened and was screaming." Mr Adam said about six houses had been badly damaged and another 20 or so had missing chimney stacks, roof tiles and garage walls. On the two streets in the path of the tornado trees were uprooted, and cars flung about.

A spokesman for the Met office said: "From about 11am what we call a squall line has been passing through north-west London. "When the clouds are well ordered in a clear line it can lead to tornadic activity."

Tim Klotz, who works in entertainment and film and has recently moved to the street, said it happened right in front of his house.

He said: "It was like some sort of cyclone. I was actually in an attic room working at my desk on the computer and there was heavy rain and sleet and then the wind just really changed.

"I looked up through a skylight and debris was falling through the air. I heard what seemed like large, clay dominoes falling, which I think were roof tiles."

The 34-year-old, originally from New York, said it then went "a bit dark" so he went downstairs and heard a smash at the front of his house.

He said: "My house was very lucky because there was only a broken window and some damaged roof tiles, but another house had its roof peeled off and fences had come down along the street.

"It was right in front of my house. I must have been right in the middle of it. There are police and fire services here now but I cannot see any fires."

A spokesman for weather forecaster MeteoGroup said a band of strong storms came through, with Heathrow Airport recording gusts of 48 knots (55mph).

He said: "That is quite squally so residential areas might have had gusts of up to 60mph.

"It still seems to be very localised so it is either what is called a micro burst - a strong down-burst of wind - or a tornado, which is when the wind goes up."

Local resident Daniel Bidgood told BBC London 94.9: "I've witnessed my first tornado.

"I was in my living room and I heard a big crack of lightning and thunder, then as I went to the window I heard a sound which was like standing behind a jetliner.

"I could see a huge cloud rolling up the street, making this tremendous sound.

"I went to try to take a picture of it but a shower of debris smashed all the windows of my house."

Colin Brewer, who lives in nearby Trevelyan Gardens, told the BBC: "It was really, really incredible. All of a sudden I saw a swirl starting to form and then, it was amazing, but it then touched land.

"I then saw clumps of all sorts of things flying into the air."

He reported seeing trees collapsed in the road and people being hit on the head by flying objects.

ondon Fire Brigade said it had sent 11 fire crews and around 50 firefighters to the scene.

Fire engines from stations including Paddington, Soho, Kentish Town and Kensington fire stations were sent.

Dawn Butler, the Labour MP for Brent South, told Sky News: "We have to try and make sure that those people who are put out and not able to get their belongings that it does not have a detrimental effect upon their Christmas.

"But we also should be grateful that nobody has been fatally injured and that no lives are lost.

"This is a mini tornado and look at the damage it has done. It has done maximum damage." She believes the tornado is a sign that climate change is having an effect.

Ms Butler said: "This is a sign that we have to take it seriously and we have to look at how we live our lives. It is quite devastating." Emergency services are currently on the scene, securing the area.

Ms Butler added: "We have to leave it to the experts. I would suggest that nobody try to go back in. It is material belongings. Our first priority has to be that residents are safe and the area is secure. We don't want another disaster, we have already got one."

Ms Butler is set to talk to local hotels to try to ensure that displaced residents have shelter.

Showroom manager Darma Vaja said it was "like a minor explosion" and no- one realised what it was.

Recalling the moment when the tornado hit, he told Sky News: "There was a sudden gush of wind, it was quite powerful. The next minute it started clearing up and we saw the commotion outside.

"There were people walking down the street saying it was some sort of blast and did not know what had happened. Then the police told us.

"There was debris on both sides of the Chamberlayne Road. There were roof timbers on the floor and roof tiles all over the place. You could see on the school opposite some of the roof tiles had been blown off."

He spotted that the side wall of one house had been completely knocked out. He said: "It looked like it was about to be demolished, you can see the internals of the house very clearly. The pitched roof of the house had been completely blown away."

Maya Sendall, an actress, said she was on the phone to a friend when the tornado ripped up the street.

She said: "I carried on with my phone call but as it came past I was absolutely shrieking with shock. It sounded like a train going by and it shook the house.

"I saw the rubbish bin going by and my hedge flattened by about two or three feet. I did not hear too much of the crashing because the sound of the wind was astonishing.

"I was four houses away from having the roof ripped off basically. I just could not believe my luck."

Julia Haughton, 22, a student, heard the tornado from inside her boyfriend's house on Crediton Road.

She said: "There was a thunder clap and it felt like the house was falling in on us. It was really frightening. My boyfriend came running in saying it was a tornado. He ran out just as it had gone through our back yard and pulled down our neighbour's tree. When I came out all the windows were smashed."

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it was too early to estimate the cost of damage caused by today's tornado.

However, a spokesman said damage caused by the Birmingham tornado in 2005 ran into "tens of millions of pounds".

He said damage caused to homes and businesses today would be covered by buildings insurance. Most household policies would cover the cost of alternative accommodation, up to the policy's limit, if residents needed to move out while repairs were carried out.

Damage to vehicles would be covered under comprehensive motor insurance, the ABI said. A spokesman advised those who had suffered damage to contact their insurer for advice on making a claim.

He said people should arrange for temporary repairs to stop damage worsening if necessary, and to keep all receipts as they would form part of any insurance claim.

"Ye shall know them by their fruits"
~ Matthew 7:16

"Believe nothing. No matter where you read it, or who said it, even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
~ Buddha
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