A TEENAGE girl had to be airlifted to hospital from a local beach after falling almost 60 feet down a cliff edge at a ruined Lothian castle.
The 16-year-old is receiving treatment for neck, head and spinal injuries, and a suspected broken leg following the horror drop, which occurred next to Dunbar Castle, East Lothian, shortly before 3pm yesterday.
It is not known what caused the fall, with emergency crews noting that weather conditions were good and the ground dry.
And in the wake of the accident political leaders pledged to examine whether safety barriers and other warnings should be installed at the popular site.
The girl fell on to rocks below the castle, where she was rescued and put on to a basket stretcher by paramedic, coastguard and lifeboat personnel.
They then transported the stretcher to a nearby area of beach for pick-up by an RAF helicopter, which airlifted the teenager and a team of doctors to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
Her injuries were today said to be serious but not life-threatening.
Local political figures have expressed shock at the incident and said a probe into what could be done to improve safety would happen as quickly as possible. Councillor Paul McLennan, SNP member for Dunbar and East Linton, said: “At this point, the main thing is concern for the girl and I hope she makes a quick recovery.
“Then we need to look at the health and safety of the area. There needs to be discussion about making it as safe as possible, and if that involves railings then I’m sure that the Harbour Trust and East Lothian Council will sit down very quickly and get some sort of arrangement in place.
“That area is usually well sign-posted. I will be liaising with the Health and Safety Executive to go down and have a look to see if they can make any recommendations.”
Coastguard rescuers said the circumstances surrounding the fall were unclear.
A spokesman said: “We do not actually know what caused her to fall in the first place. The ground was dry – it was not slippy. She maybe just got a bit too close to the edge. We took a 999 call from a person who saw her fall. When he saw her fall, he called straight away.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service described the drop as “substantial”, adding: “A joint rescue was made by the fire service, the coastguard and ambulance service. The fire service administered oxygen to the casualty before she was airlifted to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary suffering from neck injuries and a suspected broken leg, and suspected head and spinal injuries.”
A police spokesman said: “Police in East Lothian attended at Dunbar Castle after a 16-year-old girl fell around 60 feet down a cliff face.
“The girl was taken by helicopter to hospital and her injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.”
Dunbar Castle was built during the 13th century to replace an earlier wooden fort and Dark Age settlement. It was a key point of defence on the road between England and Scotland, although much of the structure has since been removed by coastal erosion.