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Beaminster Tunnel tragedy: Couple die in landslide
10:34am Wednesday 18th July 2012 in Bridport
A couple lay buried in their car for 10 days after being caught in a landslide.
Their bodies lay undetected beneath hundreds of tonnes of mud and rubble since July 7.
The woman, named locally as Rosemary Snell, in her 60s, and the man, in his 70s, were found in the car at the entrance to Beaminster Tunnel.
The tunnel section of the A3066 had been closed for the past 10 days since the county was hit by severe flooding.
Dorset Police say authorities examined the scene on July 7 after the landslide took place and there was ‘no indication’ there was a car underneath.
The tunnel was searched by firefighters, police officers and county council engineers and heat-seeking equipment was used.
Mrs Snell, believed to be from Misterton, and the man, from Taunton, were returning home from a meal out in Beaminster on the evening of July 7 when the tunnel partially collapsed.
Several hundred tonnes of mud and rubble were brought down onto the road.
The steps of the missing Somerset couple were traced by Avon and Somerset Police and Dorset Police was alerted that they had been in Beaminster that evening.
Emergency services returned to search the scene on Monday evening and made the horrific discovery.
Two teams of crime scene investigators were called to the scene yesterday along with Dorset Police’s Collision and Investigation Unit.
Firefighters from Bridport Fire Station used hydraulic equipment to free the car, which was buried in several hundred tons of mud and rubble.
It had been crushed by the weight of falling masonry and mud and the roof was flattened.
Dorset Police assistant chief constable James Vaughan said the body of the man was found in the car and it is suspected the woman’s body will be found.
The car was recovered and taken to Weymouth Police Station where specialist investigators will cut the car open and recover the bodies.
Assistant Chief Constable Vaughan said the discovery of the missing couple is ‘a dreadful realisation for the family’.
Police confirmed that the couple were in a new relationship. The man has not yet been named.
Mrs Snell was a member of the WI and recently moved to Misterton from London.
She was a registered London tour guide and a member of the Guild of Guide Lecturers.
Police said the couple’s next-of-kin have been informed of the developments and are being supported by family liaison officers.
Bridport Inspector Mike Darby said: “It is a very, very sad set of circumstances and our sincere condolences go out to the families of the people involved and this is clearly a very difficult time for them.”