A Monkey's Revenge - My Blog

Into the vortex

Last week was one of those where despite being busy, I have nothing to show for it on here as my pictures have been held over and not published yet. Probably something to do with the fact that newspapers have been stuffed full with coverage from Japan and Libya.

Today I have sold a stock image,(used across 2 pages), of an event which happened back in 2005, and it made me think back to the day I took it.I was sat in a somalian cafe in Birmingham, drinking some rather good and very cheap coffee while the reporter made a few telephone calls and we worked out our next move on a story about terrorist cells in the UK. The date was 28th July, not long after 7/7 as it became known- the day when suicide bombers had killed 52 innocents in London.

There is an awful lot of foot-slogging on jobs like this and I remember we had stopped for a quick sandwich and coffee in the little cafe overlooking the high street, somewhere in the Kings Heath area. It's obviously important to keep your wits about you when working on a story like that and even when taking a break. Fortunately I picked up on some unusual activity outside on the street. The rain had started lashing down hard, the wind was making it very difficult for people on the street and eventually we heard lots of emergency services sirens nearby.

Curiosity always gets the better of me, so I abandoned the attempt at lunch, grabbed my camera bag and headed towards the noise of the sirens about a quarter of a mile down the hill. What greeted me was an amazing sight which you simply don't expect to see in the UK. People wandering around in shock, shattered trees, broken cars and houses with the rooves ripped off. It looked like something from the set of a disaster movie and I realised the damage had been caused by the weather. In fact it turned out to be a tornado with winds that had reached up to 130 mph in a short but destructive burst of energy.

Nineteen people were injured in the twister, but fortunately nobody killed. The total cost of the damage caused was around £40 million, making it the most costly tornado in British history.

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