At least 12 people were injured, three seriously, when a tornado ripped through part of Birmingham today.
West Midlands Fire Service declared a "major incident" after deploying 15 appliances to a one-sq km area of south Birmingham where hundreds of buildings were damaged and trees uprooted.
Witnesses said a section of the city's so-called "Balti Belt" - which centres on Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook - was left resembling a war zone - with fruit, glass, masonry, tyres and furniture littering the streets.
A fire service spokeswoman said: "Three men, three women, three boys and three girls have been treated by fire service personnel and ambulance crews for various injuries and have been taken to hospital."
Police confirmed that an emergency medical centre had been set up in the Moseley area and that the High Street in neighbouring Kings Heath had been closed.
None of those hurt is said to have life-threatening injuries after the mini-twister struck at around 2.30pm.
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Witnesses said a section of Kings Heath High Street was cordoned off from the Hare and Hounds pub to the junction with Vicarage Road.
A turntable ladder could be seen opposite the Woolworth's store in the High Street as firefighters surveyed damage to the roof of a two-storey block containing shops.
Debris, including branches, was strewn across the busy arterial route in the south of the city.
The scene is less than half a mile from the scene of a fatal incident in 1999 when high winds blew over a roadside tree on to several vehicles, killing three people.
Students Leyla Turkoglu and Sarah Clarke were both in a nearby supermarket car park today when the the mini-twister struck.
Leyla, an 18-year-old studying English at University College London, said: "We were in the car park of Morrisons. We got out of the car and the rain came so heavily.
"People were running inside to get out of it. Then we saw roof tiles flying around and then trees landing on the road.
"It was just really bad and odd.
"It was over really quickly and quite scary."
The teenager added: "The sky just went a really odd colour, browny not grey. It was like night-time and then it was over as soon as it started."
Her friend, Sarah, a 19-year-old PE student, said: "A few cars have been damaged and we have heard that Iceland's roof has also been affected."
In the neighbouring Sparkbrook area, a wooden table could be seen lodged in the branches of a tree.
Several buildings in the Ladypool Road area, including a school, had been damaged and Zeb's curry house had been stripped of its roof.
Glass and traders' wares, including fruit and other food, littered the streets, and windows on cars and in a phone booth appeared to have been blown out by the wind.
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Matoof Hussain, who lives in St Pauls Road, Sparkbrook, in a house backing on to Pickwick Park, said his children, aged six and three, had been looking out of a rear upstairs window when a tree fell into the back garden.
The 46-year-old said: "If that tree was two metres bigger then it would have come through the window. I am grateful to God, it was a lucky escape."
The freak weather conditions also ripped up trees at the nearby All Saints Church near the junction with Vicarage Road.
Traffic was being allowed along Vicarage Road and out of the city but motorists reported severe congestion.
Tornado damage in pictures:
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