5:00pm Sunday 13th April 2014
By Chris Seal
A 150 TONNE cliff landslide that 'sounded like an earthquake' has resulted in part of Penarth beach being cordoned off.
Coastguards said it was a lucky escape that nobody was hurt as rocks crumbled down on to the beach.
The landslide happened around 1pm earlier today, April 13, near where the former multi-storey car park was based, in between Penarth Pier and the Custom House.
At the time of the incident hundreds of people were enjoying the sunny weather by walking along the beach.
One woman, who was walking along the beach with her husband and two grandchildren, recorded the dramatic footage on her mobile phone.
It was thanks to her footage that the fire service didn't spend hours clearing through the rocks as they could confirm that nobody was trapped by the landslide.
Angela Gwyn, who was visiting Penarth from Cwmbran, said: "We saw a couple of bits fall down and that wasn't unusual, but then bigger bits started falling down."
Angela, who was with her husband and four-year-old Ryan and two-year-old Leon, added that she became concerned when bigger bits of rock joined the landslide.
"I just grabbed them and ran," she said.
"It sounded a bit like an earthquake when it was all rushing down."
Coastguards, the fire service and police all attended the scene and closed off the area from the Custom House to Penarth Pier.
Penarth Fire Station green watch manager Colin Pritchard, who was one of the first on the scene, said: "150 tonne of rock came down in a cliff landslide.
"There were no persons in the vicinity, but the fire service were assisted by the coastguard and police to secure the area.
"We are now going to check the stability of the cliff with the help of the local authority."
He added that the cause of the cliff landslide was likely to be weather related and that people should always stay a safe distance away from the cliff edge.
"All that rain dries out with a bit of sun in the gaps and then it crumbles down," he said.
"People really should stay at least the height of the cliff away from it, no matter what the weather or time of year.
"There's always bits falling off there but this time quite a lot came down."
Penarth Coastguard station officer Paul Gallone said it was a "lucky escape" that nobody was trapped by the landslide when the beach was so busy.
"Luckily someone saw it happen and could confirm there was nobody underneath it," he said.
"If not it could have been a different story and it would have been a rescue operation.
"It was lucky nobody was underneath there at the time."
He added that it wasn't unusual for cliff landslides in Penarth, but said that they usually happen nearer Lavernock Point.
"It's unusual as people don't usually congregate where it happens.
"The concern is now that people go there looking for fossils."
South Wales Fire Service group manager Graeme Smith said it was one of the biggest landslides he had seen for a while.
"The fire service urge people to stay a safe distance away from the cliff so they can view the beautiful Welsh coastline without any danger themselves.
He added that the woman that witnessed it was a "life saver" in terms of preventing the emergency services from spending hours going through the rocks.
He added that five appliances from the fire service, around 30 crew, as well as police, ambulance and Coastguards, meant that about 50 rescue operators attended the scene.
He added that he didn't think it had affected the coastal path above it.
The stability of the cliff will now be assessed by the Fire Service and the Vale of Glamorgan Council.
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