Beachgoers on the southern coast of England narrowly avoided tragedy when a cliff overlooking the West Bay beach collapsed, dumping tons of rock and boulders the size of cars onto the sand.
“Rockfalls and Landslips can happen at anytime,” the Dorset Council said following the incident. “These people had a lucky escape.”
“The South West Coast Path above the cliff at West Bay is currently closed,” they added.
Cliff rangers responded to news that the cliff collapsed on Tuesday following strong wind and heavy rains from the weekend’s Storm Antoni, which had winds recorded at 78 mph.
A spokesperson for the council told British outlet ITV that “Solent coastguard have made us aware of this landslip,” and that West Bay coastguard personnel had cordoned off the area, which they expect to remain in place for six months.
The council dispatched rangers to check the area and make sure that appropriate signage remained posted around the coastal path.
“The Jurassic Coast is a wonderful place to visit, but it’s important to use common sense and caution – stay away from the edge and base of cliffs, and always pay attention to warning signs, safety messages and the tides,” the spokesperson said.
The cliffs have served as a popular filming spot for TV shows and film, including the immensely popular crime drama “Broadchurch” and the Carey Mulligan period drama “Far from the Madding Crowd.”
Dorset Live reported that another collapse had happened in the same area earlier this year on May 21 likely due to torrential rains over the preceding weekend.
Members of the public at that time reported that rocks had trapped some people, but through the use of a drone and analysis of CCTV footage, emergency personnel determined that no one was near the cliff during the collapse.
Local officials reiterated that pedestrians should remain clear of the cliff top or getting too close to the base and should keep up to date on the tide – and not let any pets loose around the cliffs, either.