Petrifying moment beachgoers flee from 400 tons of rock crumbling off cliff

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A group of people visiting a beach in Devon were lucky to leave alive after hundreds of tons of rock collapsed from a cliff face above them.

The cliffs at West Bay are notoriously unstable, with the sandstone that forms the famous Jurassic Coast easily eroded.

In May, huge boulders on the same stretch of coastline broke free and slumped onto the beach where holidaymakers had been sitting hours before.

But the rockfall last Tuesday was a much closer call – and the entire narrow escape was captured on camera.

One person in an orange jacket can be seen taking pictures of the unstable sheer cliff face, with two other people slightly closer.

In a matter of seconds, 400 tons of rock breaks away and lands in an enormous cloud of dust and sand where they had been standing.

The camera operator, Daniel Knagg, also makes sure to run to a safer place, before filming the last few pieces of stone crumbling away.

Sharing the footage on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, Dorset Council wrote: ‘Rockfalls and Landslips can happen at anytime. These people had a lucky escape.’

The post added that the South West Coast Path, which runs above the cliff, has been closed.

Geologist Richard Edmonds said: ‘When you have had a lot of rain you can expect falls but it’s very unusual in August so it is partly down to the weather we’ve had.

‘There was also quite a big stormy sea last week with 14ft high seas at West Bay, swells are very damaging to the cliffs, so that is probably a contributing factor.’

Sam Scriven, of the Jurassic Coast Trust, added: ‘Rockfalls are dramatic and higlight the hazards of the coastline.

‘But it is what the coast does. It is natural. This is the coastline forming as we watch.’

Anyone caught using the closed section of the coastal path, which has been diverted through the Bridport and West Bay Golf Club, could face a fine of up to £1,000.

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said: ‘We urge people to stay away from the edge of the cliff top, stay away from the base of cliffs. If you are under a rock fall, the likelihood is you will die.

‘Pay attention to warning signs, check tide times before setting off to avoid being cut off by incoming tides and keep dogs on leads near the cliff edge.’

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