A SECTION of Clacton Pier has collapsed into the North Sea during structural refurbishment work. 

A small part of the historic structure, built in 1871, broke off on Friday morning while works were being carried out to the outside ride deck, which is currently closed to the public.

The section that collapsed is where the Stella's Revenge rollercoaster was previously positioned.

The thrilling ride, however, was recently dismantled as part of an ongoing project to reinvigorate the landmark with new attractions.

Clacton Pier said work was taking place to put in a new area of concrete decking when the section collapsed.

It said a limited section was being cast in the far corner of the deck.

The aim was ensure that the wet concrete being laid would not result in undue structural movement to the existing concrete deck.

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Pier director Billy Ball said that as this was taking place, excess vertical movement of the piles caused four bays of the existing slab to fail.

“This was being carried out under controlled conditions at a time when the tide was up and no one was under the Pier,” he said.

“Site personnel were carefully monitoring the pouring of the concrete when the collapse happened, and everyone was evacuated from that particular area which is now fenced off.”

Mr Ball added that similar tried and tested methods have taken place in other areas of the pier over the past ten years that it has been in his family’s ownership.

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So far around 4,000 square metres of such work has been carried out and this area involves 140 square metres.

“As part of our ongoing commitment to ensure the Pier remains safe and serviceable, we go to extensive lengths to analyse and calculate the integrity of the existing structure before constructing any new attractions,” said Mr Ball.

“Our structural engineers are currently assessing the situation.”

The affected section of the ride deck was a part of the area which had been set aside for the new Looping Star ride due to be opened in the Spring.

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One seafront worker, who did not want to be named, saw the section collapse.

"The first bit fell down at about 10.30am," he said.

"I was just sitting on the seafront talking to the bar owner and then a second larger section fell down at about 11am - it sounded like thunder.

"There were workmen on the pier at the time and they all ran away as it collapsed.

"There were quite a few people around at the time and everyone stopped to watch what was happening - it was quite shocking to see and made quite a noise."

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Both Essex Police and Essex County Fire and Rescue Service have been contacted but have said they have not been called to the scene. 

Shocked resident, Lynsey Bessent, from Clacton, said: "I am concerned for all at the pier and I hope everything is okay - it is sad."

Izzy Fields, tweeted saying she saw the collapse take place.

Another Twitter user, Bailey Wright, posted a photo of the broken pier.

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