Dudley bowling alley evacuated as rain flows through ceiling
Terrified families fled for safety as part of the ceiling at a tenpin bowling centre collapsed and storm water flooded in.
Hundreds of people were cleared from Tenpin Bowling in Dudley as flash flooding caused disruption across the Black Country and Staffordshire.
Footage taken at the scene showed rain pouring through the roof at the entrance of the bowling alley,sending ceiling tiles crashing to the ground on Tuesday afternoon.
Staff at the Castlegate Park centre, where all 22 lanes were in use, warned customers over the loudspeaker to leave.
WATCH: Part of roof collapses at bowling alley
Footage courtesy of Rhys Palmer
The focus of the damage was the entrance and a nearby fruit machine arcade where the electrics were cut off, swiftly followed by the closure of the bowling lanes.
Families were eventually let out through a side door as ceiling panels continued to fall near the main entrance.
'The ceiling's coming down'
Mother-of-four Emily Palmer, who was caught up in the pandemonium just after 2.30pm, said people panicked in their rush to get out of the building.
She said: "The staff were saying the ceiling was unstable. The place was rammed with families – because of the school summer holidays there was lots of young kids – but no one knew which way to turn.
"Someone shouted 'The ceiling's coming down' and everyone started running. No one knew what parts of the roof were coming in. I'd got five little ones with me, aged between two and eight, and I was shouting at them to stay by me. It was scary.
"The problem was at the entrance so they opened up a side door at the back of the lanes and we got out there.
"There were just two tannoy announcements, one to tell people to stop using the fruit machines and then to tell us to stop bowling because it wasn't safe and to get out.
"The ceiling tiles were just dropping and water was pouring in. One of the staff was telling people to stop filming it on their phones."
Mrs Palmer, 30, of Russells Hall Estate, Dudley, said the bowling alley was busier than usual because of a £5 burger and bowling deal.
She was there with her husband Rhys, who posted a video of part of the roof collapse on Facebook.
Fleeing customers were told they would be refunded but Mrs Palmer said: "That's not what we wanted to hear at that moment. We just wanted to get out safely."
Tenpin Bowling Dudley and the company's head office were not available for comment.
Heavy rain and thunderstorms arrived in the region amid severe weather warnings from the Met Office.
The agency extended a yellow severe weather warning for thunderstorms to cover the majority of England today, with 50mm of rain - almost a month's worth - falling in one hour in parts of northern England.
And the intense downpours caused localised flooding on roads and railway lines across the Black Country and Staffordshire.
Two lanes of the M5 were shut for around two hours due to severe flooding near Rowley Regis.
Highways England warned of long southbound delays as a result of the lane closure between Junction 2 West Bromwich and Junction 3 for Quinton between 5pm and 7pm.
Ironstone Road in Burntwood and Wolverhampton Road in Cheslyn Hay were also heavily flooded, and there were reports of flooding at Sainsbury's Petrol Station in Blackheath and Birmingham New Road in Lanesfield, Wolverhampton.
Regular danger spot Trescott Ford near Wolverhampton was also closed by police on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile flooding in the Lye area meant trains had to run at a reduced speed.
National Rail said trains between Kidderminster and Birmingham Snow Hill were cancelled or delayed by up to 30 minutes, with disruption expected until the end of the day.
Train tickets were being accepted on West Midlands Metro trams as a result.
The rain arrived just days after the UK was sweltering in a heatwave with temperatures breaking records.
Cambridge University Botanic Garden measured 38.7C (101.7F) on Thursday beating the previous UK record of 38.5C (101.3F), set in Kent in 2003.
Latest weather forecast
Met Office forecasters said that showers would increase in frequency in the afternoon.
Up to 50mm (2ins) of rain could fall in three hours across parts of the West Midlands making for potentially difficult driving conditions.
Forecasters said: "Heavy showers and thunderstorms will continue to spread north-east across England and Wales, while also increasing in frequency during the day.
"In a few places there is the potential for 20mm (0.8in) to 30mm (1.2in) of rain to fall in an hour and 30mm (1.2in) to 50mm (2in) of rain to fall in three hours.
"Hail is also possible, mainly over northern England."
The area covered by a weather warning for Wednesday includes the Midlands, parts of Scotland, North Wales and north England.