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Coastguard statement on 'tragic, complex rescue'

Mark Rodaway, Portland Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Manager gave this statement with regards to the inquest into the death of Charlotte Furness-Smith.

Any death at sea is a tragedy and has a profound impact on the family, friends and all those involved in the search and rescue operation. Our thoughts are with those that have been affected during this difficult time.This was a complex rescue, with winds gusting up to 60mph, horrendous sea conditions combined with high tide and limited access to the cave. This was proven when one of our Coastguard Rescue Officers risked his own life when attempting to abseil down a narrow blow hole.

I am confident the Coastguard helicopter crew, Coastguard Rescue Teams and the RNLI lifeboat crews on scene that day made every effort while there was still a chance of a successful rescue outcome.”

– Mark Rodaway, Portland Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Manager
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Misadventure verdict at inquest of woman who died trapped in sea cave

Charlotte Furness-Smith got trapped in a sea cave Credit: Royal Navy

A coroner has recorded a verdict of misadventure in the case of a woman who died trapped in Dorset sea cave.

Thirty-year-old Charlotte Furness-Smith had gone coasteering with her brother when she was swept into Tilly Whim caves in Swanage last November.

Her body has never been found.

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Family of swimmer who died say not enough was done

The family of a Bristol teacher who died after being trapped in a cave on the Dorset coast say not enough was done to save her life.

Charlotte Furness-Smith, who taught Maths at the Bristol Free School in Southmead, was with her brother climbing and swimming south of Swanage when waves washed her into a cave.

The RNLI carried out an extensive search at the time but her family say rescuers delayed getting a rope down to her. Richard Slee reports.

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Cave swimmer inquest takes place

The inquest of Charlotte Furness-Smith takes place today Credit: Royal Navy

An inquest is due to open into the death of a teacher who disappeared when she became trapped in caves in Dorset.

Thirty-year-old Charlotte Furness-Smith had gone coasteering with her brother when she was swept into Tilly Whim caves in Swanage last November. Her body has never been found.

The inquest is expected to last two days.

BEAMINSTER INQUEST: Accidental death conclusion

The Coroner at the inquest in the deaths of two people that were trapped by a landslide at the Beaminster Tunnel in Dorset has recorded an accidental verdict.

It would seem excess water and the soaking of the ground was the major factor overall... but there was no conclusion that death could have occurred as a result of actions.

Ultimately what happened was a pure accident and like all accidents you could say that 30 seconds earlier or 30 seconds later, no-one would have died. It is as close as that.

– Coroner Sheriff Payne

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BEAMINSTER INQUEST: geologist gives evidence

Geologist and expert Dr David Clinton has told the inquest the landslip was probably the result of the slope being very steep and that the ground was probably saturated.

Dr Clinton says he thinks the vegetation was carried above ‘fluidized soil’ as it slipped. He said the soil was known as ‘green sand’.

He says the removal of trees on the slope may have contributed to the landslip but it was unlikely to have been the contributory factor.

Dr Clinton said he could not say if it was negligent to have removed them.

He added that the high water table and the fact the soil was wet may have been enough on its own to cause the landslip.

BEAMINSTER INQUEST: PC found two bodies

PC Roger Clark attended the scene on 16 July 2012.

He says the landslide was extensive, mud reported to be approximately 12 feet deep, and there was a tree above the vehicle.

PC Clark examined the vehicle on July 20. There were two bodies inside.

The damage to the vehicle was wholly consistent with the vehicle being subject to extreme down force. The force was of such magnitude that the vehicle was crushed by the weight.

– PC Roger Clark

In response to a question from the coroner, he couldn’t find any evidence that the car had been driven in to anything.

In response to a further question he said the height of the vehicle was lower than the normal level of the window sill.

BEAMINSTER INQUEST: Car was 'flattened'

Fire officer Mark Greenham says his team returned to the northern side of the tunnel on the July 16 2012 and assisted with the digging following the landslip.

He described how they found ‘something metal’ and stopped. The car was recovered the next day and was ‘flattened’.

Home Office Pathologist Basil Purdue said in a statement that cause of death for Rosemary Snell was chest compression due to death in landslide.

For Michael Rolfe, it was fracture of the spine due to trapping in a landslide.

Dr Purdue had ‘thought the deaths would be instantaneous’.

BEAMINSTER INQUEST: Wall was cascading down

PCSO, Mark Brown, described in a statement how one of the fire officers tried to climb on the mud, but said ‘he kept sinking down, he was very unsteady on his feet’.

The fire fighters then took a fire engine and full crew to the northern end of the tunnel.

Fire Officer Mark Greenham described how five members of the crew went to the tunnel entrance. They got to within 20 or 30 metres of the entrance but they could see parts of the parapet wall cascading down.

They used thermal imaging cameras to search the tunnel, but at 00.08am they called off the search because there was no information that anyone was missing.

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