A WOMAN was killed under a massive landslide on the Jurassic Coast in West Dorset.
Rescuers worked into the evening yesterday in the hope of finding the 22-year-old woman alive under more than 100 tonnes of earth and rubble – but the grim news that a body had been found came late last night.
The woman died after being trapped when cliffs crumbled and came crashing down on Burton Bradstock beach which had been busy with families enjoying the soaring temperatures.
Witnesses said there was a series of falls before a major collapse at about 12.30pm yesterday which sounded like ‘thunder.’ Authorities said more than 400 tonnes of rubble came down altogether.
The woman, who was on the beach with her parents and boyfriend and staying at nearby Freshwater Beach Holiday Park, was buried in the larger landslip.
It triggered a major rescue operation involving dozens of emergency services personnel and specialist search teams.
Other beachgoers caught in the rubble suffered injuries.
Authorities had earlier warned of unstable cliffs along the coast following unprecedented levels of rain a fortnight ago. There will now be restricted access to beaches from West Bexington to Lyme Regis because of the Burton landslide.
The cliff horror comes after Somerset couple Rosemary Snell and Michael Rolfe were killed in a landslide, nine miles away at the Beaminster Tunnel.
Yesterday, fire crews along with police officers, coastguards, a lifeboat crew, paramedics and lifeguards swarmed at the beach in vehicles, boats and rescue helicopters.
The specialist Urban Search and Rescue Team from Exeter was also scrambled. Representatives from the National Trust, which owns the land where the cliff collapsed, also attended.
Inspector Mike Darby of Bridport police said the beach would be closed until there was no further risk to anybody using it.
He said: “Whether that takes a day or a month I don’t know.
“Obviously Dorset County Council and geologists and others will be consulted about whether it is safe for people to go down the beach again.”
A number of warnings have been issued about landslide risks and instability of the cliffs along the whole stretch of West Dorset coastline.
A Dorset Police spokesman said last night: At approximately 9.40pm on Tuesday, July 24, search crews located a body on Burton Bradstock beach.
“The body is believed to be that of a 22-year-old woman, reported missing earlier in the day following a landslide at the location.
“Next of kin are aware and family liaison officers are supporting the family. The coroner has been informed.
“At this time there are no further reports of missing people at the location and the search operation will now be stood down.
“It is believed the incident was a tragic accident and our thoughts are with the family of the victim at this very difficult time.”
The spokesman said the Dorset Local Resilience forum which comprises Dorset Police, Dorset Fire and Rescue, all local councils and HM Coastguard amongst others, is advising residents and visitors to West Dorset to avoid cliffs and beaches with a cliff backdrop, following the significant landslide yesterday.