EMERGENCY crews cordoned off a section of beach huts in Boscombe on Saturday after a woman collapsed and died.

A passing cyclist reported to lifeguards that the woman, who has yet to be formally identified, appeared to have been taken ill in a beach hut at the bottom of the Manor Steps zigzag, east of Boscombe Pier, at around 11am.

The lifeguards rushed to check her condition and administered first aid until an ambulance crew arrived and took over. However she was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Three police cars, two seafront vehicles and the coastguard attended the incident, and the zigzag was also cordoned off as the seafront was busy with morning walkers taking advantage of the sunshine.

Paul Godier, 64, of Boscombe, said: “I was just passing when I saw the ambulance crew and the lifeguards gathered around someone on the upper level of beach huts.

“I asked a seafront chap what was going on, but he just said a woman had collapsed. He looked very grim faced.

“I'm very sorry to hear that she died. I imagine she was a hut owner. There would be no reason to go up there if not.”

Holidaymaker Shawn McIntosh, 36, from Canada, said: “The road was blocked off so we couldn't see much, but they were putting a covered body into the back of a vehicle.

“It was all over quite quickly. The guys in the blue suits, I think they were forensics, were looking around for a bit.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said there were no suspicious circumstances and the matter had been passed to the coroner.

Barry Heathfield, RNLI lifeguard manager for Dorset, said: “Our lifeguards are based at Boscombe East all year round, and they were approached by the cyclist saying a lady in a beach hut appeared to be unwell.

“The lifeguards went down to see if she was alright but it appeared she wasn't well at all, so they started carrying out resuscitation.

“They are all trained in advanced first aid, the same course the lifeboat crews take, and used oxygen and a defibrillator. They did everything they could until the ambulance crew arrived to take over.”