Beach warnings as sewage released into the sea off Thanet

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Media captionThe latest incident comes a day after Thanet gained prestigious Blue Flags for all seven of its beaches

Raw sewage has been released into the sea off the Thanet coast in Kent after a month's rain fell overnight.

Southern Water said the emergency discharge from Foreness Point pumping station in Margate was to protect homes in the area from flooding.

Thanet council advised swimmers not to go into the sea between Walpole Bay in Margate and Viking Bay, Broadstairs.

Earlier this week, Thanet's beaches were awarded more Blue Flag awards for cleanliness than any other area.

A Southern Water spokesman said the pumping station was "overwhelmed by heavy rain" for six hours on Wednesday night.

"We have teams out on beaches in the area to clear any debris which may have been washed up," he said.

'Precautionary measure'

The beaches affected are Walpole, Palm Bay, Botany Bay, Kingsgate Bay, Joss Bay, Stone Bay, and Viking Bay.

Thanet council said the advice was a precautionary measure and signs were being displayed at all the beaches.

People are being told not to enter the area of beach below the high water mark.

Access to the remainder of the beach is still permitted and remains open to the public.

Officers from the Environment Agency have been carrying out water quality tests at several of the beaches and have begun an investigation.

Two years ago, 20 beaches across Thanet were closed following a sewage spill when the same pumping station failed.

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