Nine die in Australian landslide

Nine people were killed when a limestone cliff ledge crumbled and collapsed on schoolchildren, teachers and parents as they watched a surfing competition at a beach on Friday, police said.

Four adults and five children, aged 11 to 13, died in the landslide, police confirmed. Rescuers at the accident, which happened at at Cowaramup, 160 kilometres south-west of Perth, used earth-moving equipment to recover the bodies and to save two survivors, a man and a girl. Both were hospitalised with minor injuries. Police estimate that more than three tons of rock and sand fell on the group. Acting deputy Police Commissioner Bruce Brennan said heavy rain had probably weakened the eroded cliff ledge, causing it to collapse as the group sheltered 20 metres beneath it. "Limestone is very brittle and with the action of the wind and the rain and other elements, it can become very unstable and is likely to collapse," Mr Brennan told reporters.