Durdle Door: Tombstoning continues despite three seriously hurt

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image copyrightDorset Police
image captionEmergency crews were called to Durdle Door at about 16:00 BST on Saturday

Tombstoning has continued on Dorset's Jurassic Coast less than 24 hours after three people were seriously hurt jumping 70ft (21m) from a cliff.

The casualties were taken to hospital after jumping from Durdle Door at about 16:00 BST on Saturday.

The coastguard and police have warned against leaping from the "dangerous" landmark arch into the sea.

However, despite warnings and advice to stay away, police said on Sunday some "still saw fit" to attempt it.

Dorset Council had closed the roads around the scene for safety reasons but hundreds of people still travelled to the area, police said.

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A spokesperson for the force said that "despite national coverage" of the incident on Saturday "some still saw fit to repeat the 'tombstoning' that... inconvenienced thousands".

The force added that on this occasion no-one suffered any serious injuries.

image copyrightLulworth Coastguard Rescue Team
image captionDurdle Door is a natural arch on Dorset's Jurassic Coast

On Saturday, one of the casualties had to be pulled from the sea bed, the coastguard said. Another jumped from the arch, which is 200ft (60m) at its highest point, but managed to stagger back to friends before falling "very unwell".

Both were airlifted to the major trauma centre in Southampton.

A third person had serious injuries to their body and was taken by ambulance to Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester.

The ages and gender of those involved have not been disclosed.

Lulworth Coastguard Rescue Team said: "We understand that four individuals jumped from Durdle Door (some 70ft) yesterday, encouraged by the crowds on the beach.

"Upsetting scenes like we and many others witnessed yesterday illustrate how very dangerous tombstoning is."

Tombstoning is the act of jumping into water from a high platform, such as a cliff, bridge or harbour edge in a straight, upright vertical posture, resembling a tombstone.

image captionAlona Lapinska described the incident as "shocking and devastating"

Daytripper Alona Lapinska, from London, said she saw several people jump from the arch, while people on the beach "clapped" and "encouraged it".

Describing one jumper she said: "It was really shocking how he landed. He landed on his stomach. He didn't land very well and he disappeared in the water.

"For about five minutes he disappeared in the water completely. One guy managed to get him out. It was a shocking and devastating picture we saw."

image captionJames Weld, who owns Durdle Door, said he hoped the casualties recovered

James Weld, owner of Durdle Door, which is part of Lulworth Estate, said he hoped the casualties recovered.

He said: "It does illustrate, not to put too fine a point on it, the stupidity of some people to climb up on the Door, which is fairly high and quite dangerous...

"I hope the publicity about those injuries will stop people doing it or make them think about it before they do it."

Mr Weld added: "As for trying to prevent it over the years we have put up all sorts of fencing, notices... Most of the fencing gets ripped down, the notices get removed and it's virtually impossible to stop those who are determined to do it..."

Dorset Council said it had closed the roads to Lulworth and Durdle Door on safety grounds.

The road to West Bexington in West Dorset had also been closed due to "health and safety issues".

But thousands of vehicles were parked in the car parks at Durdle Door on Sunday morning.

Many visitors were tourists and day trippers from London. BBC South reporter Laurence Herdman described seeing a huge number of visitors.

Mr Weld said he was not legally allowed to close the beach, and his car parks remained open as closing them would not stop day trippers coming and they would park on the road.

image captionPeople had travelled to the beach on Sunday morning at Durdle Door
image copyrightBBC Sport
image captionThousands of cars were parked at Durdle Door on Sunday morning

Dorset Council's corporate director, Jonathan Mair, said: "We would ask people to please think twice before visiting Dorset's beaches as they are becoming overcrowded, and maintaining social distancing is becoming difficult."

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Callaghan encouraged people to avoid busy areas and to avoid spreading coronavirus.

He said: "The images circulated from Durdle Door yesterday show that too many people made the decision to go to the beach rather than going elsewhere.

"The critical incident that occurred in this area demonstrates how important it is to act responsibly and not to overcrowd our beaches."

The area has seen large numbers of visitors during the recent hot weather after lockdown restrictions were eased.

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