Birmingham woke up today to scenes of havoc after a tornado ripped through the city, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
Twenty people were injured - three seriously - hundreds of homes were wrecked and damage estimated at millions of pounds was caused as the twister tore through the south of the city yesterday.
Houses were stripped of their roofs, hundreds of trees uprooted, cars flung across streets, walls smashed and people injured by flying debris as the tornado - which lasted only a couple of minutes - left a scar of destruction.
The Sparkbrook, Balsall Heath, Moseley and Kings Heath areas were worst hit. West Midlands Fire Service declared a "major incident" after deploying 15 appliances to a one-square kilometre area where hundreds of buildings were damaged - many losing their entire roofs.
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Many roads were still unpassable or cordoned off last night and motorists were warned their journeys could be delayed today.
The phenomenon, which struck at 2.45pm and reached speeds of up to 130 mph, left part of the "Balti Belt" - which centres on Ladypool Road, Sparkbrook - resembling a war zone with fruit, glass, masonry, tyres and furniture littering the streets.
In Birchwood Crescent, Moseley (pictured), the roofs of nearly all the properties were ripped off, while the length of Woodstock Road was cordoned off after trees, some as tall as 50ft, toppled into front gardens and the road.
An emergency medical centre was set up in Moseley while the High Street in neighbouring Kings Heath was closed after shop frontages were destroyed.
Nearly 50 ambulance staff were called to scenes of devastation as the service was inundated with calls; casualties were taken to Heartlands and Selly Oak Hospitals.
Birmingham City FC also suffered, as debris from the St Andrew's roof damaged the pitch and vehicles in the car park.
Birmingham Post photographer Neil Pugh was driving on the M42 when he saw the tornado, a "swirling black cloud", cross the carriageway.
"It was down for about 15 seconds, then lifted before it hit Hopwood Services, throwing stuff around. The clouds were massive and dark green. It was a spectacular sight."
Visit www.icBirmingham.co.uk/pictures for information on how to order Post and Mail photographs.
Birmingham City Council deputy leader Paul Tilsley pledged the local authority would do all it could for affected residents.
"I extend my sincere sympathies to everyone who has been affected by this freak weather and assure them that the city council will be doing everything we can to help," he said.
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