COASTGUARDS have issued a warning about the dangerous practice of "tombstoning" after a man died jumping off a pier.

Leaping into the sea from cliffs or piers seems to be growing in popularity - and not only among thrill-seeking teenagers.

On Saturday, five middle- aged men jumped off Clacton Pier in Essex. One died and another required intensive care in hospital.

The coastguard believes that despite these deaths, people are still not getting the message that leaping into the sea can be very dangerous.

A spokesman for Portland Coastguard said: "Luckily we do not have too many places that are attractive to tombstoners.

"We have had problems at Portland Bill but usually the swell is such that it looks obviously stupid.

"In harbours there are existing by-laws so if anyone does jump off a bridge or a wall the harbour master zooms up and the people are prosecuted."

There have also been problems with teenagers jumping off Bournemouth Pier.

Advice on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency website reads: "Those who seek thrills by leaping into the sea at height should bear in mind that there are often rocks under the surface of the water which can cause severe and at times fatal injuries.

"In addition, tidal conditions can mean that what was a deep pool one day can be a shallow puddle the next.

"The sea is very cold and making sudden jumps into it can result in cold water shock."

Despite warnings, teenagers remain attracted to the hazardous pursuit.

Zac Goodall, 15, from Hampshire, who has jumped off quays and cliffs, said: "Tombstoning is fun because of the rush you get from doing it. It sounds weird but it is both scary and fun at the same time.

"As long as you check the water depth before you jump you should be quite safe. However, recent events would suggest otherwise."