Sussex

Worthing emergency evacuation closes seafront

Police at Worthing Image copyright EDDIE MITCHELL
Image caption Sussex Police is investigating reports of "hazardous material" on Worthing seafront

Police closed down a seaside resort during a "hazardous material incident" after people reported having sore eyes and vomiting.

A two-mile cordon was in place on Worthing seafront. Social media users reported being evacuated from the pier and the beach.

People were urged to stay away from the area and shut windows and doors.

Sussex Police said the symptoms had affected "a small number of people", with two being taken to hospital.

Kite surfing instructor Christine Johnston said she was about to start a lesson near Windsor Road when she was told to leave the beach.

Image copyright EDDIE MITCHELL
Image caption Worthing pier was reportedly evacuated

"The beach patrol buggy came and told us to leave the beach immediately," she said.

"They had their faces covered, one with a dust mask and the other using their clothing."

She added: "It seemed quite serious. We got the impression there had been some kind of incident or something in the air.

"I did feel like my eyes were itchy. It was a bit more than hay fever. I went and rinsed my eyes and I feel fine now."

Image copyright Eddie Mitchell
Image caption People were told to leave the beach

Police said at 16:20 BST that a cordon, in place along Marine Parade between Grand Avenue and Windsor Road, had been lifted, adding that "the seafront is now open as usual".

It said it was "following up a number of lines of inquiry".

The force said two people were taken to hospital, before being discharged and advised to "go home, wash their clothes and have a shower".

Police added: "Anyone else affected is advised to do the same - and use copious amounts of water to wash your eyes."

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In August 2017, about 150 people attended hospital reporting sore eyes and vomiting after a chemical haze drifted over Eastbourne.

An investigation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs concluded the gas cloud was likely to have come from the Channel.

It said: "It seems most likely that the source of the gas was a ship, lost cargo, or possibly a wreck."

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