Chemical 'haze' that caused 150 people to fall ill on beach 'could have come from shipwreck'

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A shipwreck could be to blame for the mysterious chemical cloud which forced coastline evacuations across East Sussex last weekend, the coastguard has said.

Some 150 people required treatment for stinging eyes, sore throats and vomiting after the noxious haze reached the shore from Eastbourne to Birling Gap, near Beachy Head, on Sunday.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said it was examining whether the emissions came from a vessel, previously unreported lost cargo or known shipwrecks, as it continues to investigate.

It said in a statement: “As part of our investigations we are considering a number of possibilities, such as discharges from a vessel, previously unreported lost cargo, and emissions from known shipwrecks.

“We have identified approximately 180 vessels that passed through the English Channel off the coast of Eastbourne on Sunday August 27.

“We are working with all relevant environmental and public health regulators to conclude these investigations. We have no further information at this stage.”

In the past, chemicals have drifted across the English Channel from European industrial units.

But the Met Office has said weather models indicate that the chemical haze was unlikely to have come from northern France.

Sussex Police said those who required treatment experienced “mostly minor” effects from the gas.


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