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Families evacuated in Eastchurch on the Isle of Sheppey as erosion leaves house in danger of falling over cliff edge

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Families have been evacuated as a major cliff collapse leaves as many as 20 homes at risk on the Isle of Sheppey.

Emergency services were called to Eastchurch after a large section of the cliff edge fell away last night.

Contractors previously putting in netting to prevent cliff erosion. Picture: Simon Hildrew
Contractors previously putting in netting to prevent cliff erosion. Picture: Simon Hildrew

The occupants of one house - Emma Tullet, her partner, and four children - said they were all out safe.

She wrote on Facebook this morning: "The house is still there. They are doing their best to save it and my car."

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) says it was called to reports of a "significant cliff collapse" near to Surf Crescent and Third Avenue.

A spokesman said: "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.

"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.

"There were no reported injuries."

KFRS's Technical Rescue Unit put a safety cordon around the affected properties and road.

The spokesperson added: "Crews assisted building control from Swale Borough Council to inspect the area and the properties nearest to the cliff edge.

"The crew also supported the occupants by retrieving a number of personal items from their homes."

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

A number of roads and footpaths in the area have been shut off and a large section of the beach close to the affected area of the cliff has also been closed.

KFRS's Volunteer Response Team has provided welfare support to the occupants of the properties.

A number of authorities have been involved in the emergency response, including Kent Police, HM Coastguard, Swale Borough Council, Medway Council, Southern Water, UK Power and SGN.

One witness described the incident as "scary times".

Efforts have been made in the past to protect homes in the area from disappearing over the cliff edge.

In 2015, planning permission was secured to lay a biodegradable mesh over vulnerable parts of the cliffs with the aim of holding the land together long enough for grass and willow and birch seedlings to take hold.

The site falls within a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to fossils and species of plant found there.

Read more: All the latest news from Sheppey

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