Tilly Whim Caves: Swimmer dies after becoming trapped

Tilly Whim Caves The woman was trapped in a sea cave at the old stone quarries

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A woman has died after becoming trapped in a sea cave off the Dorset coast.

A coastguard rescue team was called to Tilly Whim Caves in Durlston, near Swanage, on Saturday afternoon, after a man swimming with her raised the alarm.

He was winched to safety but the woman, aged 30, had become trapped in the caves at sea level. By the time rescuers reached her she had died.

The man, 31, was unhurt. Rescuers were unable to retrieve the woman's body as it was deemed "too dangerous".

Portland Coastguard said the weather conditions were "horrendous" with gale force winds and high tide.

'Blow hole'

A Swanage coastguard search and rescue team spokesman said it made the operation extremely difficult.

He said: "Entry to the cave was either underwater, or though a narrow blow hole at the top of the cave.

"The rescue was considered to be at the very edge of our technical capability.

"With the light failing and high tide approaching, a final risk assessment was undertaken by the office in charge and a decision was made to deploy.

"The St Albans' cliff technician showed exceptional courage and entered the cave through the blow hole.

"On entering the cave it became apparent that the casualty had sadly succumbed.

"The difficult decision was taken that the recovery of the body at that point was too dangerous to undertake. The teams stood down at this point.

"Naturally at this time the team's thoughts are with the deceased person's family and friends."

Dorset Police said it was now dealing with the incident.

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