Suspected tornado damages homes in east London

A suspected tornado has damaged homes, torn down garden walls and sent dustbins flying hundreds of metres through the air in east London.

Footage posted on social media showed havoc caused by strong winds, which left tiles strewn around roads in and around Hulse Avenue, about half a mile from Barking tube station.

Other videos showed flash flooding in parts of the borough, with torrents of water running down streets.

No injuries have been reported, and a spokesperson for Barking and Dagenham council said nobody had needed rehousing.

A council spokesperson said: “Following the severe weather that hit Hulse Avenue and surrounding streets in Barking this evening, we can confirm that early reports suggest that a number of properties have sustained roof damage causing debris to the road, while residents’ cars, telephone lines and trees have also been hit.

“Hulse Avenue and surrounding roads are currently closed and council officers and other emergency services are on location offering support and reassurance to residents.”

The Metropolitan police said it had received reports of a tornado. It confirmed damage to roofs, electrical equipment, street furniture and vehicles as a result of a “weather-related incident” in Hulse Avenue.

A Met Office yellow weather warning for thunderstorms and flooding had been in place for east London and parts of Essex until 11pm on Friday. It said lightning strikes were possible and weather conditions had the potential to cause damage to buildings.

Matthew Box, a forecaster for the Met Office, said that while he wasn’t able to confirm that there had been a tornado, it was likely to have been one. The UK on average records about 35 each year.

“They’re formed in an unstable atmosphere when we get convection occurring, quite deep convection through the atmosphere, which forms these heavy showers. They’re most commonly reported in the summer and autumn.

“We haven’t seen any funnel clouds hitting the ground, which is one of the things we look for, although that doesn’t always occur. At this stage we’re unable to definitely confirm a tornado has occurred, but on the assessment of observations and footage currently available, it is probable that a brief tornado did occur.”

In 2005, 19 people were injured and £40m of damage was caused when a tornado cut a 7km (4.3m) path through part of suburban Birmingham.

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