Sussex

Beach search after Seaford Head cliff fall

A helicopter hovers over the fallen cliff at Seaford Head, East Sussex
Image caption A search-and-rescue helicopter from Lydd., Kent, helped with the search for casualties

Rescuers carried out a search of the beach at Seaford Head in Sussex after a "significant" cliff fall.

Coastguard search-and-rescue teams scoured the area beneath the 80m high cliff, near Newhaven after huge chunks fell on to rocks below.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said there were no reports of anyone missing but a large-scale search was launched "due to the sheer scale" of the fall.

Coastguards have repeatedly warned walkers to stay away from cliffs there.

A coastguard spokesman said emergency services received "multiple 999 calls" at about 16:00 BST.

The UK Coastguard search-and-rescue helicopter flew from Lydd, in Kent, to join Newhaven and Birling Gap Coastguard Rescue teams and East Sussex police and fire-and-rescue services at the scene.

The helicopter was stood down at about 17:30 and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency later confirmed the search had ended.

Kaimes Beasley, duty controller for the UK Coastguard, said beach goers were being advised "to keep away from the scene" and the area was being cordoned off "in the interests of public safety."

Image caption Vitalea Coleone: "We thought something had gone into the rocks"

Witnesses spoke of seeing clouds of white dust as an estimated 50,000 tonnes of cliff fell.

Vitalea Coleone told the BBC: "As I was swimming I saw huge amounts of what I thought was smoke. We thought something had gone into the rocks.

"I got out of the water because I didn't know what it was. It was just like someone had let a smoke machine off."

A large crack appeared in the cliff face at Seaford Head in 2014, and there have been numerous warnings about the entire stretch around the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head - a favourite spot with walkers.

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