Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Monday, 4 August 2008 16:02 UK

Boy dies as sand tunnel collapses


Boy dies in sand tunnel collapse

A 16-year-old boy who died after a tunnel dug in sand dunes collapsed around him, was trapped 5ft (1.52m) below the surface, rescuers have said.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate the boy after he was pulled out of the sand at Cefn Sidan beach, near Burry Port in Carmarthenshire, on Sunday evening.

The teenager from Wrexham was airlifted to Morriston Hospital in Swansea but doctors there pronounced him dead.

Rescuers have warned about the dangers of digging into sand.

The boy had been on holiday with his family and friends when the incident happened.


He had been playing with a group of up to 15 other children in the dunes behind the beach in Pembrey Country Park when he became trapped.

Swansea Coastguard watch manager Dave Hughes said the alarm was raised at around 1910 BST and Burry Port coastguard team were on the scene within 15 minutes.

He said: "By that time the child had been trapped in the sand for approximately 20 minutes.

Cefn Sidan beach on Monday
A floral tribute left on Cefn Sidan beach on Monday

"Because we've had a lot of rainfall over the last couple of days, the sand becomes quite compact and obviously it becomes very dense as well.

"I believe the tunnel was a huge tunnel they were able to walk through, and it became unsteady and unfortunately collapsed around the young boy."

Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service were also called to the scene by the coastguard and dispatched two special rescue units equipped to deal with waterborne rescues.

A spokeswoman for the fire service said: "The young man was some five feet below the surface and although rescue crews had managed to clear the sand from his head and shoulders the youth was compressed under a considerable weight of sand.

"The emergency services would like to highlight the dangers of digging into unstable ground such as sand and the risk of sudden collapse, causing persons to become trapped.

Station Manager Byron Jones, mid and west Wales fire and rescue service speaks to Wales Today

"This applies to trenches, tunnels or small caves.

"Although many children and adults may play safely in sand at the sea shore or in sand dunes, deep excavations and tunnels are extremely dangerous and should not be attempted."

After the teenager was dug out of the sand he was airlifted to hospital.

Mr Hughes added: "It's just a tragic accident that could have been prevented but unfortunately children don't see danger."

He said coastguards offered their sympathy to the boy's family and, with the school holidays underway, wanted to warn others of the dangers of tunnelling in sand.

He said: "Sand is always very unstable and heavy and can collapse at any time."

Station officer John Jones of Burry Port Coastguard Rescue said he would be recommending the local authority put up warning signs at Cefn Sidan beach, advising of the danger of tunnelling or digging in the dunes.

Mr Jones, who was the first officer on the scene yesterday, said he used to play in the dunes himself as a child.

"They are perfectly safe if people don't take unnecessary risks," he said.

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