A KEEN gardener got the shock of her life when a freak storm rained 20 crabs down on her.

Kate Walker was picking beans in her garden when she felt what she thought was heavy rain hitting her.

But the 33-year-old got a fright when she looked up and saw the brown coloured creatures falling from the sky.

Miss Walker, of Powder Mill Lane, Dartford, collected 19 of the crabs and put them in her neighbour's pond.

The 20th crab died and she is currently keeping it under a pot to show disbelieving friends.

She said: "They think I'm mad, I thought it was something out of the X-Files. The crabs were covered in sand.

"Where have they come from? I've heard of fish falling from the sky but this is ridiculous.'' Miss Walker, who is currently unemployed, lives next to Brooklands Lake and speculates the crabs could have come from there or the Thames, which is about two-and-a-half miles away.

She said: "The lake is a possibility. They could have also come from the salty end of the Thames.'' Fish and frogs falling from the sky are not common occurrences but have been reported many times around the world.

It happens when a mini-tornado passes over water and sweeps up objects of all shapes and sizes.

If the item is lightweight, like a fish or a small frog, it may be caught in a strong storm or a cloud updraft for a long time rising higher until it is thrown out like a hailstone.

Met Office spokesman Barry Gormett said: "It can happen because of the dynamics of the atmosphere.

"When there is a convective motion of air beneath a cloud, it can draw things upwards. I've heard of fish and frogs but crabs are a first.''

Falling from the heavens

  • In 1995, Nellie Straw of Sheffield was driving through Scotland in a storm when hundreds of frogs suddenly pelted her car.
  • In 1881, a thunderstorm in Worcester brought down tons of periwinkles and hermit crabs.
  • In 1890, bird's blood rained down on Messignadi in Calabria, Italy.
  • From about 1982 to 1986, kernels of corn rained down on several houses in Evans, Colorado. Oddly, there were no cornfields in the area.
  • In 1877, several 1ft-long alligators fell on J L Smith's farm in South Carolina.
  • In November, 1996, a town in southern Tasmania was slimed. Apparently, it had rained either fish eggs or baby jellyfish.
  • A Korean fisherman, trolling off the coast of the Falkland Islands, was knocked unconscious by a single frozen squid which fell from the sky.
  • In a town in Guatemala, money, blue rain, frogs and toads, fish, gold, cigarettes and Star Wars figures have on occasions rained from the sky.
  • A poor village in Mexico was showered with gold. Supposedly, a treasure chest from a ship sunk off the nearby coast was whipped up by a tornado and deposited on the village.