Durdle Door incident: Thousands of sunbathers evacuated from Dorset Beach after three injured jumping off cliffs told to self-isolate

Ewan Somerville
Pictures of the mass evacuation at Durdle Door beach have sparked fury: Purbeck Police

Furious Britons are demanding that the thousands of sunbathers evacuated en masse from a beach on the Jurassic coast self-isolate amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Extraordinary scenes branded “absolute carnage” showed thousands of beachgoers crammed in two pens on Durdle Door, near Lulworth, Dorset, as two air ambulances landed on Saturday afternoon.

Three people were seriously injured after jumping into the sea from cliffs at the popular tourist spot.

Pictures earlier in the day had shown streams of tourists pouring down narrow coastal paths onto the small cove.

It came as deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam urged Brits not to "tear the pants out of it" ahead of the next phase of lockdown easing from Monday.

Dorset Police confirmed the beach remained shut on Sunday and said anyone attempting to reach it would be "turned away".

Thousands of sunseekers streamed up narrow coast paths as the beach was evacuated (Purbeck Police)

The force was called at 3.43pm on Saturday to a report of concern for the safety of people jumping off the famous Durdle Door arch, which is about 200ft high.

Officers raced to the scene along with the ambulance service, HM Coastguard and the RNLI and declared it closed as a mass evacuation began at 5pm.

Three people sustained serious injuries and their current condition is not yet known, Dorset Constabulary said.

One picture posted on a police Facebook page showed the sun worshippers crammed together on the small beach to make way for the helicopters.

Durdle Door beach was packed out on Saturday (PA)

But the scenes sparked a furious reaction online, with people branding it “shambolic” and “insanity”.

Piers Morgan raged: “The beach at Durdle Door, Dorset, today. Fools throwing themselves off the cliffs into the sea (3 badly hurt) air ambulances, 100s of people packed together like sardines. Total insanity.”

Twitter user Alex Tiffin wrote: “Everyone who was present at Durdle Door today should be forced to self isolate for 14 days.

“To not do so would be wilfully risking lives.”

Another fumed: “The "Cummings Effect" reached Durdle Door beach in Dorset today, when police were forced to evacuate it owing to accidents and overcrowding. Yet the lockdown rules don't ease off until Monday.”

Under the current rules, people in England can make day trips to leisure spots but cannot stay overnight and have to keep two metres apart.

One user posted a video showing the sands at Durdle Door heaving with sunseekers, raging: “Hey @BorisJohnson, does this look like #SocialDistancing is working to you? This is Durdle Door in Dorset right now... This "lockdown" is an absolute sham”.

ITV reporter Rupert Evelyn tweeted “Look very closely at this picture.... 2 helicopters on the beach at Durdle Door in Dorset. Thousands watching on. Lockdown in England finished. 3 seriously injured jumping off the cliff into the sea”

Another raged: “This is my local beach today. hundreds of people crowded together due to 4 people being injured after jumping 200ft off of Durdle Foor. and the government wants to rely on the common sense of the country to stop a 2nd wave? think again Boris.”

The car park was rammed at Durdle Door, near Lulworth in Dorset, as beachgoers flocked to the Jurassic Coast (PA)

Thousands of sunseekers flocked to beaches, parks and beauty spots across England on another scorching Saturday as temperatures hit 25C.

The mercury is expected to climb even higher on Sunday amid desperate pleas from tourism bosses, police chiefs and beauty spot managers for sunseekers to stay away.

It comes ahead of Boris Johnson’s next phase of lockdown easing from Monday which will allow people to meet outside in socially distanced groups of six.