Walkers warned as chalk cliffs collapse in Sussex

Collapsed cliff Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption The RNLI said a "vast volume" of chalk fell

Walkers have been warned to stay away from a cliff edge on the East Sussex coast after a stretch collapsed between Cuckmere Haven and Birling Gap.

The cliff fall saw thousands of tonnes of chalk fall on an eight-metre (26ft) stretch, that RNLI officer Alan Novis described as the biggest he had seen in his lifetime.

People have been advised to stay at least 100m (320ft) away from the edge and also avoid the cliff base.

Mr Novis said a "vast volume" fell.

Urging people to also keep dogs on leads, he said: "Instinct will kick in as soon as they see a rabbit or a seagull and often then the owners are then very close to the cliff as well and it puts people in real danger."

Sussex university geologist Dr John Barlow said cliff falls happened because of wave energy delivered by the sea to the cliff base, that weakened the rock.

"It's very exciting to see this. We like to look at the frequency in magnitude rock-fall events to understand how quickly erosion is going," he said.

Mr Novis added: "This is a natural process, so these cliffs are eroding all year round."

Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption Experts will study the cliff fall to monitor erosion

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