TONNES of rock and rubble plunged 100ft onto Bournemouth promenade after a large section of East Cliff collapsed at the weekend.

Officials say it was lucky no-one was seriously injured in the 5am landslip which happened just yards from the Jon Egging Memorial.

The clifftop pathway and steps near the memorial were ripped apart in the incident on Sunday, and tonnes of boulders and material obliterated a cafe toilet block at the base of the cliffs.

Bournemouth Echo:

Picture credit Bliss Aviation

The East Cliff lift was also damaged, with one of its cars knocked off its rails by the force of the impact.

Bournemouth Council experts have warned of further landslips over the next 48 hours.

Luckily, rangers had spotted signs of the cliff fall hours before it happened, so they were able to cordon off the area as a precaution.

Crowds of people, many of them holidaymakers who had been on the pathway hours before it collapsed, gathered at the site today.

"I was actually walking around the Red Arrows memorial yesterday, then a couple of hours later we noticed it had been cordoned off," said Alan Sanders.

"Now the pathway has gone. Incredible."

Meanwhile, tourist Derek Baker told the Echo: "Yesterday morning I walked down the steps which are no longer there.

"It is frightening to think I was only walking along the cliff top at this exact spot yesterday."

Bournemouth Echo:

Picture credit Bliss Aviation

Speaking from the scene, Bournemouth Borough Council assistant senior ranger Luke Watkins said he was first made aware of the collapse at 5am.

Hours earlier cracks had been spotted by members of the seafront team, enabling them to take action.

"Within 20 minutes of those cracks being noticed on Saturday afternoon we had a structural engineer on site and had made the area safe," he added. "We closed down the lift, the cafe and the toilets.

"Then we got a call from the CCTV operators at 5am, saying all the cameras had gone out so we got down here sharpish.

"If it is going to happen, five-o-clock in the morning is the best time."

No-one was injured in the incident and while a huge scar remains on the cliff side, East Overcliff Drive remains open to pedestrians and traffic.

However, the clifftop Jon Egging Memorial is cordoned off and so is a significant section of promenade below.

A council spokesman explained: ""We ask the public to respect the closure and not to enter the site.

"Our initial inspection suggests that further movement is possible as the land slip settles over the next 48 hours, and obviously the area will remain closed during that time.

"A specialist technical engineer will visit the site early in the week and we will form a plan of action to get the area cleared and facilities back in action as soon as possible.

"However at this stage, we expect it will take a significant period of time before everything is operational again."