WA tornado: Two people in hospital, recreation centre destroyed, roof of prison ripped off

Hannah Cross
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Children inside as ‘tornado’ tears through Bunbury

Two people are in hospital after a tornado tore through Bunbury, destroying parts of a recreation centre with dozens of children inside and ripping off the roofs of buildings at the regional prison.

About eight ambulances were sent to the Bunbury Police and Community Youth Centre following the severe weather which battered suburban Bunbury about 4pm Friday afternoon.

It is believed dozens of children were inside the local PCYC in Withers as a tornado tore through it, but none were injured.

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The centre, near the intersection of Parade Road and Wimbledon Way, was torn apart -- with at least two walls caved in amid the destruction.

Mangled sheet metal, insulation and uprooted trees were strewn across the parking lot in the aftermath as paramedics, firefighters and police rushed to the scene.

It is believed dozens of children were inside as a tornado tore through the centre in Withers, on the intersection of Parade Road and Wimbledon Way.
It is believed dozens of children were inside as a tornado tore through the centre in Withers, on the intersection of Parade Road and Wimbledon Way. Credit: Oliver Lane/supplied

St John WA treated a woman in her 30s at the PCYC before taking her to Bunbury Regional Hospital under lights and sirens for further treatment.

It is believed her injuries are serious but not life-threatening.

The West Australian also understands the roofs of two buildings at Bunbury Regional Prison have collapsed and one person was taken to Bunbury Regional Hospital via ambulance under normal road conditions.

“An injured prisoner has been taken to hospital after a number of accommodation blocks in the minimum security section of the prison were damaged,” a Department of Justice spokeswoman said.

“Staff have secured the site and have moved minimum security prisoners to other undamaged areas of the facility.”

The department said the prison is “otherwise safe and secure”.

Footage of the moment the terrifying tornado ripped through the town shows metal, fencing and other debris swept into the winding spiral as it left houses and streets wrecked.

State Emergency Services received more than 20 calls for assistance in the first 30 minutes as Bunbury and the wider South West region copped the chaotic weather.
State Emergency Services received more than 20 calls for assistance in the first 30 minutes as Bunbury and the wider South West region copped the chaotic weather. Credit: Sean Van Der Wielen/supplied

State Emergency Services received more than 20 calls for assistance in the first 30 minutes as Bunbury and the wider South West region copped the chaotic weather.

That number has since grown to 50 since 4pm, with multiple reports of powerlines down, roof damage and water ingress across Bunbury, Withers and College Grove.

Colin and Elaine Purser were enjoying their afternoon at home in College Grove when the tornado hit their home.

“I was sitting in my chair drinking my coffee ... when it started pelting down with rain,” Mr Purser said.

“Next thing you know the wind picked up astronomically, you could see stuff whizzing around in the air.

“Then it got stronger and stronger, you could see bits and pieces breaking off and flying.

“I ducked down behind the pool table and when it stopped I looked up and (we have) three fences down around our house.”

More than 3300 homes were plunged into darkness without power across Bunbury, South Bunbury, Dalyellup, Withers, Carey Park and Usher.

“People on Parade Road, Washington Avenue and Bussell Highway in Withers, including those in the vicinity of Hay Park Multi Sports Pavillion should be aware of fallen powerlines, trees and other hazards,” the latest advice from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said.

“People should avoid Parade Road and Washington Avenue in Withers.”

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