Sussex

Lewes Castle: Medieval 600-tonne wall collapses on house

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Media captionA section of wall at Lewes Castle has collapsed onto a neighbouring house

A medieval castle's 600-tonne wall collapsed on to a house and garden in Lewes sparking a major search.

Emergency services, including a hazardous area response team and sniffer dogs, went to the scene of the collapse of the 10m (32ft) by 10m wall.

When the alert first came in at 12:22 GMT, it was not known if anyone was trapped and dogs trained for use in earthquake zones were deployed.

Firefighters later tweeted the search was over with no casualties found.

Incident commander Matt Lloyd said the wall had fallen into an adjacent garden and house.

Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption The wall formed part of the defences of the 1,000-year-old castle

The wall had been reportedly undergoing work to remove ivy in recent weeks.

A spokeswoman for castle owners Sussex Archaeological Society said the wall that collapsed was privately-owned and the section that had fallen was part of the curtain wall that ran round the entire outside of the 1,000-year-old landmark.

Image copyright Geograph / Philip Halling
Image caption The castle was privately owned and used as a folly before it was given to the archaeological society

It was one of the last remaining sections of the historic defence wall, she said, adding: "There's not much of it left standing. It's one of the last sections that was still at full height."

Staff at the castle closed the attraction on Monday as a precautionary measure, the spokeswoman said.

She said the castle walls that are owned by the archaeological society are checked independently on an annual basis.

Several parts of the castle structure are privately owned by different property owners.

Lewes District Council said officers from its building control team went to the scene to liaise with emergency services.

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Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption An estimated 600 tonnes of stonework has fallen
Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption A large-scale search and rescue operation was held

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