A MAN died while taking part in a coasteering activity that led to eight people being rescued along the Purbeck coast.

A large search and rescue operation was launched between Dancing Ledge and Hedbury Head after a group of people got into difficulty in the water and shouted for help.

Coastguard rescue teams, RNLI lifeboats, the Coastguard helicopter and an air ambulance were called out to rescue the group at around 3.30pm on Sunday.

Paramedics and police officers also attended the incident.

A man in his 40s was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was recovered from the water and taken to the clifftop by members of the lifeboat crew.

Eight people were rescued from the water by the lifeboat and taken to shore where they were checked over by paramedics.

Several other people in the coasteering group, including two instructors, were also given a check-up at Swanage Lifeboat Station.

Despite the scale of the incident, and the fact a person died, none of the agencies involved made it public. The Daily Echo made enquiries yesterday following a call from a concerned member of the public.

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said; “At 4.24pm on Sunday Dorset Police received a report from the coastguard about a group who were believed to have been involved in coasteering whereby one member got into difficulties at Dancing Ledge near Langton Matravers.

“Sadly one member of the group, a man in his 40s, was pronounced dead at the scene. His next of kin have been informed and the coroner notified. The death in not being treated as suspicious.”

A Coastguard spokesperson said: “HM Coastguard coordinated a large search and rescue operation between Dancing Ledge and Hedbury Head after a large number of people were reported to be in the water in difficulty.

“Several reports came into the Coastguard at around 3.30pm on Sunday from members of the public and fishing vessels reporting a group of about 8-10 people in difficulty in the water and shouting for help.

“Swanage and St Albans Coastguard Rescue Teams, Swanage RNLI Lifeboats and the Lee-on-Solent Coastguard helicopter have all were all sent to the area and a number of nearby vessels responded to assist. The South Western Ambulance Service, HEMS and Dorset Police were also on scene.

“It is believed the casualties got into difficulty whilst coasteering and it was reported that they had lifejackets on.

“Eight people were recovered from the water by the lifeboat and a ninth casualty was recovered to the clifftop by two of the inshore lifeboat crew.

“In total twelve casualties, including three instructors were taken to the nearby boathouse for medical assessment.”

South Western Ambulance Service confirmed they sent teams of paramedics following a call at 3.32pm.

n What is coasteering?

Coasteering involves exploring a rocky coastline by climbing, jumping, and swimming, without the aid of boats or surf boards. The activity is popular along the Dorset coast, especially in Purbeck, and several outdoor activity providers run coasteering sessions.