Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 18:32 UK

Three bodies found at Beachy Head


The identities of the three people have not yet been confirmed, but they are not thought to be local.

The bodies of a man, woman and young boy have been recovered from about 400ft down Beachy Head in East Sussex.

The coastguard saw two bodies at about 2020 BST on Sunday, but the search did not begin until first light on Monday.

The boy, who was thought to be about five years old, was found inside a rucksack, a coastguard station officer who attended the scene said.

The identities of the three people have not yet been confirmed, but they are not thought to be local.

Sussex Police said the deaths were not being treated as suspicious but they were "keeping an open mind until the full facts have been established".

The bodies were first spotted by a member of the coastguard who was on a routine patrol with a cliff-top chaplain.

Soft toys

Eastbourne Coastguard station officer Stuart McNab, who was one of the first to be winched down the cliff, said he found the child's body in a rucksack along with a second rucksack filled with toys.

He said: "The bag was closed when I got to it. I saw what I thought was a doll's head, but on closer examination it was a child."

He said the second rucksack contained toys, including a tractor and soft toys.

The bodies were recovered by a coastguard team under the supervision of police officers by 1400 BST.

The area has been cordoned off and coastguards, police and volunteers from the chaplaincy team have remained at the scene.

Ch Insp Dick Coates said that a car, believed to be a Volkswagen or caravanette, had been recovered from the cliff-top car park and was being examined by officers.

The cliffs at Beachy Head reach up to about 600ft (180m) high and are a notorious suicide spot.

Mr McNab said an average of 20 people jump from the cliffs at Beachy Head every year.

He added there had been cases of multiple suicides before but they generally tended to involve elderly people.

Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team was set up in 2004 to try to prevent suicides.

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