Beachy Head evacuated as mist feared to be chlorine gas leaves holidaymakers with breathing problems and 'burning' eyes

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Up to 50 people have been evacuated from a popular beach after a suspected chlorine gas leak resulted in them suffering from breathing problems.

A “chemical mist” descended on the beach on Sunday afternoon causing people to vomit and leaving their eyes “burning” and throats “sore”.

The incident, at Birling Gap near Beachy Head on the East Sussex coast, happened as holidaygoers were enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend sunshine.

Police said that the “unknown haze” travelled in from the sea and warned people to stay away from the area.

Surrounding roads have been closed and local residents told to keep their doors and windows closed.

One Twitter user said: “A lovely afternoon at Birling Gap cut short by a strange chemical mist flooding the area.

“Everyones eyes were streaming and throats sore.”

Sameer Jadhav wrote: “Birling Gap some weird gas leak. People crying. Ambulances called.

“Don’t go to Birling Gap at the moment.”

Dan Sankey said: “Beautiful afternoon at Birling Gap cut short by some weird mist, burning everyone’s eyes which led to the beach and cliff being evacuated.”

Another Twitter user added: “Nice day at Birling Gap beach turned into a nightmare.. some sort of chlorine gas leak has made my eyes red raw.”

The cause of the haze is currently unknown.

The RNLI said that “possibly some kind of gaseous fumes” had drifted over the scene and launched all-weather lifeboats over fears from the coastguard that people could be trapped on the beach.

A spokesman said: “We have been checking along the shoreline to try and ensure that everyone is safe.”

He said a “plume” had drifted across the area bringing “some sort of substance” with it which seemed to affect a number of people.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “A ‘haze’ that is causing discomfort for people along the coast from Eastbourne to Birling Gap has prompted emergency services to warn people to stay away from the beaches and to keep doors and windows closed if living near the coast.

“The first report came from Birling Gap just before 5pm on Sunday where up to 50 people had been affected by irritation to eyes and throats.

“This seems to have been caused by an unknown haze coming in from the sea, but the source has not yet been established.”

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