Chemical haze warning along Sussex coast near Eastbourne, UK
People are being warned to avoid beaches and keep doors and windows shut after an “unknown haze” drifted in off the Sussex coast.
Up to 50 people at the cliff tops and beach at Birling Gap, near Eastbourne, reported irritation to their eyes and throats just before 5pm.
“This seems to have been caused by an unknown haze coming in from the sea, but the source has not yet been established,” said Sussex Police.
Some people vomited as a result of breathing in the “haze”, said Sky News reporter Katerina Vittozzi.
Emergency services cleared the area around Birling Gap and told people living along the Eastbourne coast to avoid beaches and shut their windows and doors.
Two lifeboats were sent to the area in case anyone was trapped on the beach.
A RNLI spokesman said a “plume” had drifted in bringing “some sort of substance” with it.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said the effects of the haze were also being reported as far as Bexhill and towards Hastings.
Sussex Police Operations Chief Inspector Bruce Matthews said just after 10pm that the “exact nature of this haze cloud” was “still not confirmed” but investigations were continuing.
Witness Mark Battershill told Sky News: “The haze is pretty bad – it’s coming in.
“Eyes are streaming, I’m at home now with my family, we’re all sitting here and the tears keep running, stinging eyes, sore throats.”
Mr Battershill was at Eastbourne’s harbour when the haze came in: “I was speaking to a colleague of mine and said ‘my eyes are really streaming’.
“I looked around and he was the same and we’re all saying ‘what is this?'”
He said some people were complaining they could not breathe properly.
Another witness, Jonny Gould, tweeted: “I am about four miles along the Sussex coast from #Birling Gap. The smell of plastic is strong in the air and my eyes are irritated.”
He told Sky News there was a visible haze in the air.
Sameer Jadhav tweeted: “Birling Gap some weird gas leak. People crying. Ambulances called. Don’t go to Birling Gap at the moment.”
Many businesses in Eastbourne have also closed, with a sign at the local McDonald’s saying it had shut due to a “chlorine gas leak”.
The main area affected stretches several miles from Birling Gap to the famous cliffs at Beachy Head, and to the Sovereign Harbour on the eastern fringes of Eastbourne.
Courtesy of Sky News