Is this the Sahara, or Sunderland as gales buffer North East coast?

Dated: 12/09/2011 SAND STORM....  High winds turned beaches into a scene out of the Sahara desert for dog walkers, as here on Seaburn beach.
Dated: 12/09/2011 SAND STORM.... High winds turned beaches into a scene out of the Sahara desert for dog walkers, as here on Seaburn beach.
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SEABURN beach looks more like the Sahara Desert as a sandstorm triggered by 70mph winds hits Wearside.

Trees fell, buildings collapsed, cars were crushed and pedestrians ran for cover as the tail-end of Hurricane Katia arrived in the North East.

Walkers on the beach found themselves caught out as giant waves crashed over the promenade.

Firefighters attended Fullwell News in Fulwell Road after reports of unstable facia boards and falling roof tiles. The situation was quickly brought under control.

Another casualty of the storm was Village News in Easington which had its chimney blown down.

Firefighters from Peterlee were called to Horden Store in Dene Terrace, after concerns the shop sign had become detached and was causing a safety hazard.

The crew used a short ladder and tools to take down the sign.

A Met Office warning of high winds was distributed to emergency services across the region, although they were reducing significantly today and due to drop further tomorrow.

A fallen tree led to Church Street in Durham being closed for around an hour and a half as Durham County Council workers were drafted in to remove it. A tree also fell on Sea View Road in Grangetown.

A building being constructed on Littleburn Industrial Estate in Langley Moor, on the outskirts of Durham, also collapsed because of the winds, with its roof crushing a dozen cars.

More than 20 firefighters were called to the scene amid fears people were trapped, but no one was injured.

Metro bosses confirmed a stretch of line between Pelaw and South Hylton, owned by Network Rail, had been hit by the storm. A sheet of plastic had been blown onto live overhead power cables, between East Boldon and Sunderland, closing the line for 50 minutes.

Traffic heading for County Durham and Wearside on the A19 was also affected when the Tees Flyover at Middlesbrough was closed off to high sided vehicles.

Community safety officers have advised anyone concerned about the stability of structures to contact the authorities and also recommended a check is carried out for debris from roofs in case any titles or fittings have come loose and a visual check in case any damage has been caused by the gales.

* Police were called to the A19 near Nissan on the southbound carriageway after a lorry collided with the central reservation.

It happened at 3.44pm and left 25ft of damage along the barrier. The driver was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital in an ambulance.

Police have stated that this accident was not caused by the weather conditions.