Unprecedented chaos tore through the Lagoa Sol urbanization (Lagoa, Algarve) on Friday, 16 November, when a massive tornado literally ripped up the neighbourhood at around 1.30pm.
Photo copyright The Portugal News
Trees were uprooted, balconies, roof tiles and framework ripped off, windows shattered and vehicles tossed for metres.
Many local residents were affected by the freak incident in which the entire neighbourhood was reduced to tatters and people were seriously injured.
Panicking parents rushed to a nearby-by school to collect their children who were in class when the tornado hit, and billboards on a nearby roundabout were mangled.
The exact extent of the damage and seriousness of the injuries is still being calculated but initial assessments suggest thirteen people were injured, three of whom seriously.
The State Secretary for Welfare and Social Security has confirmed that four families, a total of eleven people, six of whom minors, need to be rehomed.
Abel Silva, born and raised in Lagoa, saw his ground-floor apartment destroyed in the terrifying incident which last merely minutes.
“It was overwhelming. All of a sudden my windows started shaking, the ground was trembling. I tried to hold the windows but I saw they were going to blow I so I threw myself to the side. The entire house has been destroyed. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
People in a nearby café said: “The sky turned pitch black, the wind became so dense you could see it, and it seemed like everything was shaking. The windows were rattling. A metal sheet from a nearby building site was ripped up. We were told to get back and stand away from the windows. The power went out. It was like something from a movie.”
GNR police confirmed that there were serious injuries and many families have been left temporarily homeless.
Emergency services were drafted in from neighbouring districts to try to bring the pandemonium under control. The National Civil Protection Authority (ANPC) dispatched emergency services to Lagoa and Silves from as far away as Beja, Setúbal and Évora.
Around 226 men and women and 68 vehicles were sent to the cities. Information from the ANPC website confirms 13 people were injured as a result of the tornado and no deaths were caused. An emergency rescue helicopter was also dispatched at 2.55pm but later retracted.
Bad weather including strong winds, thunder and lightening tormented the Algarve on Friday.
There was a power shortage in Lagos caused by persistent stormy weather, the village of Ferragudo and city of Albufeira flooded, and damage was caused to several locations across the region.
Residents in Silves told The Portugal News "it looks like a bomb has hit it."
Eyewitness reports said a glass dome that once sat on top of the Town Hall shattered.
In Alvor a roof was ripped off a school and a café-kiosk in the heart of the village was completely removed from its spot.
The Weather Institute (IM) placed the Algarve under orange alert for most of Saturday - a warning of moderate to high risk meteorological situation. Heavy downpours accompanied by strong winds and thunder were predicted, but thankfully proved unfounded.
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