Beachy Head chemical haze mystery deepens as police say gas not from France 

Beachy Head chemical haze mystery deepens as police say gas not from France The mystery over a noxious chemical haze that drifted ashore along the Sussex coast and put scores in hospital has deepened as police have said it is unlikely to have come from France. Around 150 people needed hospital treatment for burning eyes, vomiting and sore throats after the mystery gas came ashore near Beachy Head on Sunday afternoon. A senior officer said on Sunday there had been previous incidents when "stuff has come across from industrial units in France." But officers on Monday said wind patterns suggested the cloud had not come from the Continent. 233 people were treated at the local hospital Credit: Eddie Mitchell  Scientists suggested the haze had instead come from shipping in The Channel or had blown from further along the English coast. The haze had dispersed by Monday morning and police lifted an order for residents around the Eastbourne area to stay inside and close their windows. Thousands of visitors are expected to travel to the area as the Bank Holiday sees some of the hottest weather of the year. Sussex Police and East Sussex Fire Service are dealing with an incident in the Birling Gap area. (1/2)— Sussex Police (@sussex_police) August 27, 2017 Members of the public are advised by Fire Service to stay indoors and shut windows if you are in the Eastbourne area. (2/2)— Sussex Police (@sussex_police) August 27, 2017 Sussex Police said: “Neither the gas nor its source have been established, but agencies are continuing to investigate and have not ruled out either onshore or offshore locations, although it does appear that it did sweep in from the sea driven by onshore breezes. “However, weather models suggest that an onshore source in northern France is very unlikely.” Birling Gap is evacuated after reports that chlorine gas has been leaked affecting people in the area.  Credit: @Kyle_Crickmore/Twitter The Met Office scientists are helping police try to determine the source of the haze. Winds in the Channel on Sunday had been light and variable with some fog banks. A spokesman said a pocket of low-lying cold air had been covered by a blanket of warmer air in a phenomenon known as a temperature inversion. The phenomenon can mean that pollution becomes trapped and does not disperse. The spokesman said: "There's a possibility that it's something from a ship in the Channel and also the possibility that it came from the English Coast." In 2013, residents along the south coast complained after cloud of foul-smelling but harmless gas has leaked from a factory in north-west France. The leak was blamed on a chemical factory near Rouen releasing mercaptan, which is added to natural gas to give it a smell. The haze apparently reached land at Birling Gap at around 5pm on Sunday afternoon. Kyle Crickmore, who had been enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend sunshine at the beach with his family, tweeted: "Some sort of chemical incident at Birling Gap, eyes are streaming and there's a strong smell of chlorine in the air." He had finished swimming when his eyes started stinging. He looked around and saw everyone on the beach also rubbing their eyes and coughing in what he described as "all sorts of strange behaviour". He told BBC News: "Then looking out towards the water, there was just this crazy foggy haze rolling in off the sea out of nowhere. It was definitely out of the ordinary considering it was a nice clear sunny day 10 minutes beforehand. "It was stupidly busy and it was a boiling hot day. It emptied in about 10 minutes which was quite staggering considering the amount of people who were there." The beachfront is popular with dog walkers and is a busy spot for tourists and locals enjoying the bank holiday sunshine. Dan Sankey wrote on Twitter: "Beautiful afternoon at Birling Gap cut short by some weird mist, burning everyone's eyes which led to the beach and cliff being evacuated." Sameer Jadhav tweeted: "Birling Gap some weird gas leak. People crying. Ambulances called. Don't go to Birling Gap at the moment". The effects felt by those caught in the cloud “prompted emergency services to warn people to stay away from the beaches and to keep doors and windows closed if living near the coast”. Sussex Police said: “People living along the coast in the area have been advised to keep doors and windows shut and to move away from the Birling Gap area in particular.” Specialist teams worked to decontaminate patients Credit: Eddie Mitchell  The RNLI said that "possibly some kind of gaseous fumes" had drifted over the scene and a significant number of people on cliff tops had been struck down with symptoms including irritation, sore eyes and vomiting. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said there had been a "hazardous cloud moving across from Birling Gap to the Eastbourne area".  By 10.30pm 233 patients had been treated at Eastbourne District General Hospital where they were being "decontaminated on site" by hospital staff.  Fears from the coastguard that people could be trapped on the beach saw the RNLI launch all-weather lifeboats from Eastbourne and Newhaven to the Birling Gap area. Mist could be seen in the area Credit: Reuters



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