Essex

Essex beach illness: Chance 'we will never know' cause

Beachgoers at Frinton beach
Image caption Despite warnings not to enter the water, some beachgoers continued to swim on Monday

There is a possibility "we will never know" why beachgoers in Essex fell ill over the bank holiday weekend, a council has said.

About 150 people enjoying the seaside sunshine in Frinton-on-Sea, Clacton and Walton-on-the-Naze suffered breathing difficulties, vomiting and coughing.

Fourteen people were taken to Colchester Hospital.

Tendring District Council said it was awaiting test results but had been told these could prove inconclusive.

People first reported feeling unwell at about 14:00 BST on Sunday.

No-one ended up being seriously ill and the council said there had been no further incidents reported in the past two days.

Image copyright Mark Wray/PA Wire
Image caption The problem was reported at beaches including Frinton

A council spokesman said: "Incidents such as these are not unheard of around the country's coastline... we have taken precautions until we are satisfied there is no further risk."

He added: "We are aware of a number of speculated causes, ranging from algae, a fuel spillage and a spike in pollution and ozone levels, and we would reassure the public we have looked into a whole range of possibilities. However, it is possible we will never know for sure what caused this incident."

The council added people should be cautious around the water and if anyone experienced similar symptoms they should dial 111.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said there was no evidence of a fuel spillage from a vessel.

Image copyright Mark Wray
Image caption Tests were taken offshore to find the source of the "irritant" that caused coughing and gasps for breath

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There have been previous cases of people becoming ill on beaches during the summer.

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