“I crouched down, then it went black” - the girl buried alive under sand on Caister beach speaks out

The girl who was buried alive when a wall of sand collapsed on her as she played on a Norfolk beach has said thank you to the men and women who saved her life.

Paige Anderson, 15, was trapped under five feet of compact sand for 15 minutes on Friday

She was just about to climb out of the hole she and her sisters had been digging on the beach at Caister, near Great Yarmouth, when the sides caved in without warning.

The frantic fight to save Paige saw paramedics, police, Caister lifeboatmen, coastguards and members of the public desperately digging through the compacted sand to reach her.

When Paige was eventually pulled free she had stopped breathing.

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Her father, Michael, saw that his daughter's face had turned blue and feared the worst. But paramedic Mark Little, who had helped dig the teenager free, was able to clear the sand from her mouth and resuscitate her before she was airlifted to hospital by the RAF Sea King helicopter.

She was discharged from the James Paget Univeristy Hospital in Gorleston at 5pm Saturday, just over 24 hours after the drama unfolded.

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Yesterday the family spoke of their ordeal - and then thanked the people who helped saved Paige's life.

Mr Anderson watched in horror as hole his daughter had been digged collapsed around her on Friday afternoon. It was the first time family, on holiday in Norfolk from Kent, had been to the beach at Caister.

'The girls were playing in the sand', said Mr Anderson, a security guard who lives in Gravesend.

'My eldest, Jade, had finished digging a hole and Paige was in the process of finishing hers. They had made this tunnel between them. They were chatting and waving at each other – like kids do.

'It was about 3pm and I went over to tell Paige we should get back to the holiday park to get showered or jump the pool. It was going to lift her out, but it was too deep so she said she'd make some steps and climb out.

'I turned around to speak to my youngest and when I looked back the sides were collapsing. Then she was gone. The rest is a blur.'

Jade, 19, managed to jump out the hole and immediately called the emergency services.

'I was on my knees digging,' said Mr Anderson.

'We all were. I wasn't going to stop. Even when the police got there, I told them I couldn't stop.

'I've done first aid training, but you are never prepared for this kind of thing to happen to your family.

'She is a brave girl. It's a miracle she's here.'

'The whole thing has restored my faith in people,' added Mr Anderson.

'I just can't thank them enough.'

Yesterday afternoon the family, who are staying at the Haven Hopton Holiday Park in Hopton-on-Sea, near Yarmouth, until Saturday, attended Caister Lifeboat Station's funday to meet some of the volunteers involved in the rescue.

Mr Anderson said they want to pass their thanks to all of the emergency services, especially a nurse called Hannah who assisted when Jade called 999, as well as the beach users and local residents who came to their aid with shovels.

Paige said she remembers little about the incident.

'I'm OK - just shocked really,' she said.

'I've got a bit of a sore back. I can't remember what happened exactely. I remember crouching down to go through the tunnel, then it all went black.'

Mr Anderson said his daughter did not know where she was when she woke up in hospital and has been quieter since the drama, but is hoping to return to the beach soon.

The near-tragedy has prompted emergency services to remind families to be extra careful while enjoying East Anglia's coast.

Yesterday, Great Yarmouth coastguard service issued a stark warning to beach users - urging them not to use inflatable toys or dinghies during the strong winds forecast for today.

A statement from the service, which covers the coast from Haile Sand Fort in Lincolnshire to Southwold in Suffolk, said forecasted conditions will make playing with inflatable toys, airbeds and dinghies on east coast beaches extremely dangerous.

It warned that inflatables are easily swept out to sea and will overturn in the deeper, rougher water further offshore and that puts people onboard in a position where they are likely to drown before rescue services can reach them.

Yesterday, a father and son using a dinghy off Caister were caught up in the turbulent winds.

The 32-year-old man and his 13-year-old son had to be rescued by Caister's Bernard Matthews II offshore lifeboat after they got into difficulty at about 10.30am. The pair, who were on holiday from Hertfordshire, had to be towed back to the beach after the coastwatch spotted them a mile offshore, struggling to compete with the strong wind and powerful tide.

• The coastguard has reminded people not to hesitate to call 999 and ask for the coastguard in the event on any emergency, particularly if a child going missing on the beach or shoreline.

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