A block of flats in South Ockendon was evacuated after more than half of its roof was blown off by high winds.

Fire crews were called to the block of six flats above shops in Daiglen Drive at 6.30am today.

The incident commander reported half the roof, including some chimney stacks, had been removed.

An Essex Fire and Rescue spokesman said: "Crews are making the scene safe and standing by awaiting the arrival of structural engineers to assess the building.

"They have also been working with Essex Police to rehome the 14 residents who are unable to return to their flats.

"No one is believed to have been badly hurt as a result of this incident."

At least eight homes were affected, along with several ground-level shops. 

Eight families were evacuated and most found alternative accommodation with family and friends while two were catered for at a rest centre in the nearby Culver Centre.

Thurrock Council has found temporary accommodation for those two families.

Council staff were on site and structural engineers are at Derwent Parade waiting until it is safe to examine the roof to discover when repairs will be possible and how long they will take.

Staff from the council’s emergency planning team opened the rest centre at 7am and have provided hot and cold drinks as well as sandwiches and other refreshments to a dozen adults and eight children.

For safety reasons Derwent Parade has been closed off by Essex Police.