Sightseers risk their lives as they jump for photo on crumbling 400ft cliff edge
Sightseers risked their lives jumping for a picture perilously close to the edge of a fragile 400ft cliff just days after a council warned of life-threatening rock falls.
The women were seen leaping into the air to get the perfect photo at Birling Gap near Eastbourne, East Sussex, on Easter Sunday.
East Sussex Council put out a warning last week following a “significant” chalk cliff fall at the beauty spot, urging lockdown visitors to stay away from unstable cliff edges and bases due to coastal erosion.
Coastguards also issued a fresh warning of the dangers of standing or walking near cliff edges after sightseers posed for selfies close to the verge of Birling Gap while enjoying last week’s unusually warm weather.
The National Trust’s “common sense safety advice” warns visitors to “stay away from the edge of the cliff top”.
New figures reveal there were 50 cliff falls along the East Sussex coast alone over the last year.
Despite the warnings, visitors flocked to the spot on England’s south coast on a sunny and warm Easter Sunday, as temperatures peaked at 18C in parts of the country.
England’s Covid-19 lockdown rules were eased last week, allowing groups of six or two households to meet outdoors.
As the restrictions were relaxed, coastal ramblers and sightseers were warned of collapsing cliffs.
Walkers were told to watch their heads and stay away from cliff tops or the beaches below to avoid plummeting boulders which break away from the soft chalk cliff faces.
East Sussex Council put out a warning last week following a “significant” cliff fall at Birling Gap.
A council spokesman said: “If you’re heading out for a coastal walk this weekend, stay away from cliff edges and bases.”
“There have been 50 cliff falls in the last year in East Sussex, where the chalk breaks away from the cliff and falls to the beach or sea below.”
Coastguards have also issued a warning over an “actively moving cliff” at Seaford Head in the last few weeks.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has previously said one of its”biggest problems” is “tackling the ‘selfie culture’ where people take risks to get a dramatic photograph of themselves on a dangerous cliff edge”.
The spokesperson added: “No selfie or photograph is worth risking your life for.
“We want people to enjoy themselves on the coast by making sure their visit is one to remember and not one they’d rather forget.
“It’s a well-known fact that the cliffs along the UK coastline are continually eroding, with pieces falling from them that can be just a few small rocks or as large as a car.
“It’s impossible to predict when the next piece might fall or how big it will be.”
Also on Easter Sunday, a base jumper was taken to hospital after their parachute failed to open and they plunged from 530ft Beachy Head, the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain.
Coastguard rescue teams, the RNLI and paramedics were scrambled to the East Sussex cliffside following the incident at 9.15am.
The casualty, reported by the Brighton Argus to be a base jumper whose parachute did not fully open, was winched up to a search and rescue helicopter.
The person was then taken to hospital.
A Coastguard spokeswoman said: “A 999 call was received at 9.15am today reporting an injured person at Beachy Head.
“The Coastguard rescue teams from Eastbourne, Birling Gap and Newhaven, the RNLI lifeboat from Eastbourne, the search and rescue helicopter from Lydd and the South East Coast Ambulance Service attended the scene.
“The casualty was winched by the search and rescue helicopter and airlifted to Brighton Hospital where they were passed into the care of medical staff.”