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Isle of Sheppey homes evacuated as cliff collapse leaves one 'hanging'

by Domenic Spriggs (2020-06-10)

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This incredible image shows a home left teetering over a 70ft drop after a large landslide sent a cliff tumbling into the sea. 

Firefighters in Kent were forced to evacuate 20 homes overnight after the 'significant collapse' at Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey at 10pm on Friday

One home in the coastal retreat of Surf Crescent was described as left 'hanging' over the cliff edge with two households still forbidden to return to their properties on Saturday evening. 

One occupant Emma Tullett told Kent Live how her home was 'about to fall over the cliff edge'.    

Residents in Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey had to be evacuated from their homes after a cliff suddenly collapsed on Friday night, putting properties in immediate danger

One distressed resident described one of the properties 'hanging' off the edge of the cliffside





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Malcolm Newell, who also lives locally, said he first warned authorities in 2015 that action was needed to prevent further erosion.

He told the BBC: 'This should have been dealt with a long time ago.

'It's not right to have people's home and their livelihoods falling into the sea.'

One house on the outermost edge of the residential area remains in the firing line - and people are now protected from getting too close by a metal gate and a police cordon.

A small sign at the foot of the fence warns of danger ahead and stops anyone from getting into the house.

Eastchurch, Kent. Photo from 2009. Part of the Sheppey cliffs have collapsed overnight at Eastchurch, leading to evacuation of 20 properties

The surrounding area has been closed by local authorities, with footpaths now blocked off and large parts of the beach below inaccessible

Just a short distance ahead is the cliff's new edge, which now juts inwards and gives a frighteningly steep view down toward the sea.

The residents of the affected house have been offered emergency accommodation by Swale Borough Council.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service said: 'Around 20 homes were quickly and safely evacuated as a precaution and the occupants were placed into a temporary welfare centre set up in New Road Residents Community Centre.

They added:  'Firefighters arrived at the scene to find a large section of the cliff edge had fallen away, leaving a number of properties at potential risk.

'Members of the public have been asked to stay away from the area due to the direct danger of further cliff collapse.'  

A Google map view shows how close the residential area, known as Surf Cresent, tour sapa sits to the sea below the cliffs

Kent Police and the local coastguard also attended the scene, with large parts of the beach being completely shut off in the aftermath. 

Footpaths in the general area have also been cordoned off, as local services bid to start a safety and clean up operation.

There were no injuries and those evacuated from their homes were given shelter overnight at New Road Residents Community Centre.

Swale Borough Council has since returned most of the residents to their homes - though two entire households are not yet able to go back and are still awaiting further action.

One of the two households have been relocated to a house in Sittingbourne as temporary accommodation, the council have said.

Cllr Roger Truelove, leader of Swale Borough Council, said: 'This is shocking news, and we will do all we can to help people.

'Along with our own officers, I would like to thank Kent Fire and Rescue Services, Kent Police, HM Coastguard and the utility services as well as our own council officers for their prompt response and trustees from the New Road Community Centre for their help in temporarily accommodating the affected families overnight.'

Read more:

Eastchurch cliff fall: Families evacuated as homes at risk - BBC News

Sheppey resident sees cliff collapse metres from his Eastchurch home despite years of campaigning

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