Since then, Encinatas Fire Chief Mike Stein said authorities have pulled five people out of the rubble near Batiquitos Lagoon.
One woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Three other people were taken to local area hospitals, and the city said Saturday on Twitter that two of them “succumbed to their injuries, bringing total fatalities to three.
The fifth person was treated at the scene for superficial injuries.
Sheriff Lt. Amber Baggs said all of the victims were adults.
Encinatas residents reacted to the scene as rescuers were digging people out of the rubble.
“Real hard to watch. It was unnerving actually,” Encinatas resident Jim Pepperdine told KSWB-TV. “They were digging out a woman — frantically digging her out — and they managed to get her out. There was already another person removed. And there was still another person trapped underneath some pretty good-sized borders. It was pretty devastating.”
Authorities brought in service-dog team to search for anyone else who might have been buried in the approximately 25- by 30-foot rubble pile that was 10 feet tall at its highest point, Stein said.
As a precaution “given the apparent natural instability” beachgoers were told to still “keep a recommended safe distance” of at least 25 to 40 feet away from the bluffs Friday evening.
“Beachgoers should continue to use caution when visiting beach areas,” the city tweeted Saturday.