Watch: Dramatic rescue of man stranded on cliff in 'hazardous' landslide zone

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Thermal imaging video captured a dramatic mission to rescue a man who was stranded on a cliff face - and was found thanks to his newspaper.

Video shows how a man who was stranded on an ‘inaccessible’ cliff face was rescued after he alerted help - by setting fire to his newspaper. With no battery-charge on his phone, retired geologist Bryn Austin, 71, used a lighter, some newspaper and packaging leftover from an Easter egg – to start a small fire in order to draw attention to himself in the remote location. During a huge search operation involving the National Police Air Service, officers quickly discovered that Bryn’s position was inaccessible - but he was found with assistance of a thermal imaging camera, night vision goggles and powerful onboard spotlight.

Stuck in a hazardous landslide

Bryn went to study the landslide at Fairlight Glen in East Sussex while visiting family in the area. He had taken a steep route down towards the beach, but lost his bearings on his return. Police were called shortly after 10pm, when relatives became worried especially as it was getting dark.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Bryn Austin, 71, signalling for help. Bryn Austin, 71, signalling for help.
Bryn Austin, 71, signalling for help. | Sussex Police / SWNS

Stranded geologist winched to safety

The HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Lydd was therefore deployed – assisted by Coastguard Rescue Teams from Hastings, Rye Bay, Bexhill and Romney Marsh, and the RNLI's all-weather lifeboat from Eastbourne and Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat – and Bryn was winched to safety.

‘Newspaper saved my life’

He credits his trusty newspaper for saving his life. “As well as providing brilliant content, it also comes in handy when I go for a walk and want to sit down without getting wet. But in this instance, it saved my life.” The retired geologist said landslides can be ‘hazardous’ but he stayed calm and went prepared.

“The cliff edge was really dodgy. I managed to find a stable position and thought it would be an ideal place to wait it out. I’d like to thank every single person who was involved in what was a life-or-death situation for me.”

Bryn Austin, 71 became stranded while studying a landslideBryn Austin, 71 became stranded while studying a landslide
Bryn Austin, 71 became stranded while studying a landslide | Sussex Police / SWNS

Chief Inspector Sarah Whitworth, of the National Police Air Service, said: “The direct communication and coordinated response between emergency service partners in this case was second to none and we are just thankful that together we were able to make sure Bryn returned home to his family that evening.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.