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Tombstoning: deadly sea jumping craze returns to Dover Harbour

This horrifying picture shows youngsters taking part in the deadly craze called tombstoning at Dover seafront.

The thrill seeking practice has paralysed people for life when they have landed on unseen rocks and other dangerous objects underwater.

The photograph shows nine children and teenagers at the scene and captures the moment a female, stripped to her underwear, is jumping to the water feet first.

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Youngsters were pictured tombstoning at Dover seafront
Youngsters were pictured tombstoning at Dover seafront

Two others are already in the sea beneath her.

It happened close to the Premier Inn on Saturday, on a day of severe winds that even led to the closure of Dover Castle.

An eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said: “There were five boys and four girls, children and teenagers.

“They certainly all looked like they were of school age.

“I watched them for a while and seven of the group jumped in, having stripped to their underwear.”

"They could have struck tank traps that are hidden underwater by the tide being in"- an eye witness

They said the youngsters could have struck tank traps hidden underwater by the tide being in.

These are concrete barriers from the Second World War to help prevent enemy invasion.

The witness continued: “I was there for a while and I could see they were all fine in the end.

“But that day, with the high winds, people were doing stupid things like walking along the edges of the cliffs.”

Tombstoning - jumping into the sea from a high point - is strongly warned against by coastguards.

In 2011 KentOnline reported how a safety campaign aimed at dissuading youngsters from risking it was having a huge impact.

That February, Port of Dover Police and the Dover District Community Safety Partnership launched a DVD graphically illustrating the dangers of jumping into the sea from piers and other structures, with the launch attracting local and national publicity.

Copies of the DVD were distributed to schools across the Dover area – and there have been requests nationwide for the film.

Workshops were also held in schools and youth groups.

As a result the port then reoported there had been a 98% reduction in tombstoning in Dover Harbour, with only one reported incident during the school summer holidays that year.

The Tombstoning warning issued by the coastguard
The Tombstoning warning issued by the coastguard

More than 300 copies of the film were made, funded by the community safety partnership.

With the help of local school children, who took part in the film, the DVD followed a tombstoning incident and subsequent rescue with the help of Dover Coastguard, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and the South East Ambulance Service.

A spokesman for Dover District Community Safety Partnership, which funded the film, said: “We would remind everyone that ‘tombstoning’ is incredibly dangerous, and can result in life threatening injuries, if not death.

"The Community Safety Partnership’s DVD warns of the dangers of tombstoning, which shows the possible consequences of this high risk activity, and includes an interview with a young man who was left paralysed after jumping from a pier.

"For more information, please see the Community Safety pages on the DDC website.”

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