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Woman killed, 4 others injured after cliff collapses at Southern California beach, police say

Woman killed, 4 others injured after cliff collapses at Southern California beach, police say

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Woman killed, 4 others injured after cliff collapses at Southern California beach, police say

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A woman was killed and four others were hurt Friday afternoon after a cliff collapsed at a Southern California beach, authorities said.

The bluff gave way around 3 p.m. in Encinitas, a suburban area north of San Diego, according to city officials. The area is popular with locals and vacationers.

The beach was reportedly crowded at the time of the collapse. Helicopter footage captured by San Diego’s KNSD-TV showed beach chairs, towels, surfboards and beach toys strewn about the sand.

The collapse trapped victims in an earthen pile which measured about 10 feet tall at its highest point, according to Encinitas Fire Chief Mike Stein. Rescue crews brought in service dogs to search for victims.

Two people were flown to hospitals in critical condition, and two were treated for minor injuries, Stein said. Authorities did not release their names or ages.

City officials closed hundreds of yards of shoreline around the accident site as a precaution.

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Bluffs give way four to eight times a year in Southern California, but “nothing of this magnitude,” said Brian Ketterer, California State Parks’ southern field division chief.

“This is a naturally eroding coastline,” Encinitas Lifeguard Capt. Larry Giles said. “There’s really no rhyme or reason, but that’s what it does naturally. …. This is what it does, and this is how are beaches are actually partially made. It actually has these failures.”

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The suburbs north of San Diego have contended with rising water levels in the Pacific Ocean, pressuring bluffs along the coast. Some bluffs are fortified with concrete walls to prevent multimillion-dollar homes from falling into the sea.

Homes on top of the bluff were not in any danger, Stein said.

Click for more from Fox5SanDiego.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

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