Shock as ice block smashes through roof

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The Independent Online

A couple had a shock after a huge block of ice crashed through their roof as they slept.

Flat-owner Vince Foote and his wife were asleep when the ice, believed to have fallen from an aircraft, smashed a 2ft hole just before 2am.

Tiles and debris were scattered 30ft due to the impact at Summerdale Court in Chichester, West Sussex, officials at West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said.

Mr Foote said: "I thought at first it was thunder and I got up to investigate. I tried to open the spare bedroom door and it wouldn't move.

"When I forced it open, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was an enormous hole in both the roof and bedroom ceiling and there were great chunks of ice everywhere.

"My wife and I are in a state of shock, but we also feel like we've had a lucky escape. The ice smashed through the room our grandchildren sleep in when they visit, which is a terrifying thought.

"It is such a freak incident, but it could have been so much worse. Tiles and roof debris have been scattered nearly 30ft so I don't want to imagine the force with which it hit."

Pete Windsor, of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This is one of the strangest incidents we've been called to.

"We are just relieved that nobody was hurt and that we were able to offer them some assistance. They have had a miraculous escape really."

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said a build-up of ice usually occurs on the seals of the exterior pipes, where water is pumped into the aircraft.

Water seeps out and ice begins to form at high altitude and continues to grow in size until the plane descends into warmer air.

Rarely, chunks of ice fall to the ground but more often dissipate in the atmosphere, the spokesman said.

He said: "These incidents are rare. There are about 25 to 30 reported every year, which is not a vast amount when you consider there are three million flight movements over the UK annually."