A PREGNANT woman was among those to defy a ban on swimming in a deadly quarry which has already killed eight people.

Gullet Quarry in the Malvern Hills has claimed eight lives since 1973, with two deaths recorded less than a week apart in the summer of 2013.

The Malvern Hills Trust has put up warning signs and even installed barbed wire fencing to stop people entering the quarry off Castlemorton Common.

However, last week around 30 people flouted the ban, enforced under byelaws, ignoring the warnings to stay out. No-one was spotted in the water yesterday (Wednesday) but concern remains that people will risk their lives as Worcestershire wilts in the heat.

The pregnant woman risked her own life despite clear signs saying 'danger', 'do not swim' and warnings that anyone caught in the water can be prosecuted by police under section 38 of the Malvern Hills Conservators Byelaws.

Five teenagers were rescued from a river in Ross-on-Wye, across the border in Herefordshire on Tuesday. If no-one had been there to rescue them the emergency services believe they could well have drowned.

Duncan Bridges, chief executive officer of the

Malvern Hills Trust (the Conservators) said the barbed wire had been put up at the end of the previous financial year.

Vegetation has also been left to grow, further restricting access.

He said: "We had people in the water on Saturday and again on Sunday. Both times people were asked to leave. Most did. A small number did not and police assisted us in removing those.

"On Monday we had a few in and they did leave at the warden's request."

The majority the swimmers were in the 16 to 25 year age range and predominantly male.

The concern is that those who enter will drown, hitting their head or suffering from cold water shock.

This is the body's short term involuntary response to being suddenly immersed in cold water.

It can include a "gasp" response which can result in water being breathed rather than air.

Mr Bridges said drinking alcohol could exacerbate this reaction.

He added: "We had a woman who was pregnant in the water in recent days. It does not bear thinking about. We have had eight fatalities in the quarry."

He said the Conservators were doing 'everything' they can to stop people taking the plunge short of putting a 24/7 guard in place.

Mr Bridges said: "It's not worth the risk. You might as an individual think you can take that risk but we're the people who are going to have to explain to your family if the worst happens.

"I don't want to be in that position. No-one does. All you can do is keep banging on to get the message out. You keep chipping away."

Russell O'Neill, 17, of Carlisle Road, Ronkswood died in the quarry on Saturday, July 6, 2013 and Justas Juzenas, aged 22, of Three Crosses Road, Ross-on-Wye, died on Friday, July 12, 2013, less than a week later.

The emergency services in Worcestershire and Herefordshire have renewed warnings as people seek to cool off during the heatwave.

West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to a location near Ross Rowing Club on Rope Walk, Ross-on-Wye at just after 7.30pm on Tuesday night to reports of a drowning.

An ambulance, a paramedic officer and a rapid response vehicle were sent to the scene.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “Two members of Ross Rowing Club went into the water, while others used a rowing boat to get to the youngsters. In the meantime, one of the clubs rescue launches was also launched.

"Three of the girls were able to get out of the water themselves. A 17 year old girl was rescued from the side by the launch and a 15 year old was rescued from the water by the rowing boat.

“The 15-year-old girl was shaken by her ordeal but was uninjured and discharged with advice.

“The 17-year-old was assessed at the scene and taken to Hereford County Hospital by ambulance as a precaution.

“On a hot sunny day, the attraction of cooling off in water is obvious. However, the dangers of doing so cannot be underestimated. These five are extremely fortunate that members of the Rowing Club were there and able to assist them quickly.”

Station Commander Neil Lilwall from the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service said: “A group of teenage girls had a lucky escape yesterday after getting into difficulty in the water.

“I am in no doubt, that if they hadn’t have rescued the girls, they would have become very tired further down river and potentially drowned.”