Woman's body found after Dorset landslide

Rescue workers at the scene of the Burton Bradstock Landslide in Dorset
Rescue workers at the scene of the Burton Bradstock Landslide in Dorset Photo: ITV West

Search crews have discovered the body of a woman following a landslide at a Dorset beach. The discovery was made at about 9.40pm on Tuesday.

Police believe the woman to be a 22-year-old reported missing at the beach earlier in the day.

It thought the missing woman was on the beach with her family and scores of other revellers who were enjoying the hottest day of the year so far.

Emergency services believe the heavy rain over the last few weeks combined with the recent heatwave caused the landslip.

At approximately 9.40pm this evening search crews located a body at Burton Bradstock beach. The body is believed to be that of the 22-year-old woman reported missing earlier in the day following a landslide at the location. Next of kin have been informed. Family liaison officers are supporting the family and the coroner has been informed. At this time there are no further reports of missing people at the location and the search operation will be stood down.

– Dorset Police spokesman

The spokesman added that police believed the incident to be a "tragic accident" and said the thoughts of the police force were with the victim's family at this "very difficult time".

Following news of the discovery of the woman's body, Dorset Police again advised members of the public to avoid beaches in the area with a cliff backdrops.

ITV News' West of England Correspondent Emily Morgan reports on the search operation:

The search operation used specialist equipment and sniffer dogs in a bid to locate the missing woman after eyewitnesses reported that someone had been under the rockfall.

Around 400 tonnes of rock - a large section of the cliff - is estimated to have fallen onto the beach.

Helicopter footage shows the size of the landslide which happened just a few hundred metres away from the Freshwater Beach holiday park.

One eyewitness told ITV Westcountry that there were two landslides - a smaller one followed by a larger one - and that he saw people under the cliff soon after the first.

Leonard Muggeridge was fishing on a boat off the coast and witnessed both landslides. He said it is common local knowledge that the cliffs all along the Jurassic Coast are unstable.

Dorset County Council said there have been several landslides along the coast Credit: ITV West Country

There have been a number of landslides on the Dorset coast in recent days following heavy rainfall followed by a hot and dry period. Coast paths between Lyme Regis & West Bexington have been closed as a precaution.

Emergency crews are responding to the Freshwater Beach Holiday Park at Burton Bradstock
Emergency crews are responding to the Freshwater Beach Holiday Park at Burton Bradstock Credit: ITV Westcountry
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Following today's incident at Burton Bradstock, all coastal paths & beaches between Lyme Regis & West Bexington are closed to ensure safety.

Walkers and fossil collectors along the West Dorset coastline have been urged to take care after the recent heavy rainfall has left the cliffs in an unusually unstable condition. The exceptionally wet weather of recent months, which culminated in the floods of 7 July, has led to a heightened risk of rock falls anywhere and at any time along the coast. Landslides have also delivered thick mudflows and quicksands to the beaches in many places.

– DORSET COUNTY COUNCIL STATEMENT
The landslide near Burton Bradstock Credit: ITV West Country

The incident comes two weeks after Somerset couple Rosemary Snell, 67, and Michael Rolfe, 72, were killed in a landslide at the Beaminster Tunnel just nine miles away.

You can find more coverage of this story on the ITV Westcountry website.