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‘I thought the house would cave in’: ‘Tornado’ leaves extensive damage in east London

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A freak weather event has damaged houses and cars in east London.

Police were called to reports a tornado had ripped through several streets in Barking around 7.20pm on Friday evening, tearing down fences and walls, and damaging cars.

A Sky News journalist who lives in the collection of roads damaged said a strong wind hit suddenly around 7.15pm.

Kiran Bhangal, 29, said it “suddenly went really, really windy” with a gale picking up fence posts, rubbish and debris and whipping it “round and round like a tornado”.

She said: “It was really shocking.

“I looked out of our daughter’s window our garden fence flew off and a tree came down.

“Rubbish and plastic bags were going round and round like a tornado. That was scary as those can pick up heavy objects.

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“I was in shock – I thought the house would cave in.”

Photos and videos from the scene showed a heavy black cloud and swirling winds amassed over the area.

It was over in a “few minutes” but in that time the surrounding “six or seven streets” were left with extensive damage, Bhangal said.

On leaving home in the aftermath she witnessed houses with damaged roofs and shattered windows, and rows of damaged cars.

Emergency services were on the scene within minutes. No injuries were reported.

Houses were damaged. Pic: Kiran Bhangal
Image: Houses and cars were left damaged. Pic: Kiran Bhangal

Barking and Dagenham Police said that while they couldn’t confirm there had been a tornado, there was a lightning strike in the area during the weather-related incident.

The force said: “Police were called at around 7.20pm to reports of damage caused to roofs, electrical equipment, street furniture and vehicles in Hulse Avenue and some surrounding roads in the Barking area.

The aftermath in Barking. Pic: Kiran Bhangal
Image: Around seven streets in Barking were said to be impacted. Pic: Kiran Bhangal

“This is a weather-related incident, during which there was a lightning strike.

“In addition to the lightning strike, we have seen reports of a tornado but cannot confirm this. There are no reports of any casualties.

“Officers are liaising with the local authority to ensure support is available to anyone affected by damage to property.”

Grahame Madge, a spokesperson from the Met Office, said: “This evening emergency services in the capital responded to a ‘weather-related’ incident at around 7.20pm. This is believed to have been a tornado, but that cannot be confirmed at this time.

“Tornadoes are rare in the UK, but occur around 35 times each year, most typically during thunderstorms.

“This evening slow-moving thunderstorms have been producing very heavy rain, lightning and hail across northeast Greater London, south Essex and the far north Kent.”