Hundreds Treated After UK Chemical 'Mist'

More than 100 people have been treated in hospital after a suspected chemical leak along the East Sussex coast. Birling Gap beach was evacuated on Sunday after people reported breathing difficulties, stinging eyes and vomiting when a "mist" appeared. Eastbourne District General Hospital says it has treated 133 people.

Investigations were under way into the cause of the "chemical haze", which was currently unknown, Sussex Police said. The force said it believed it came in from the sea - previous incidents have involved something coming over from an industrial unit in France - but this has yet to be confirmed. However, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it was "extremely unlikely" that it was chlorine - the police said the effects, while uncomfortable, were not serious.

A police spokesman said the first report came in just before 17:00 BST where "up to 50 people had been affected by irritation to eyes and throats". The first reports were from Birling Gap, but the plume of gas moved eastwards along the coast as far as Bexhill, police said.

As of Sunday night 133 patients were being "decontaminated" at hospital, East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said. The National Trust, which owns the land and has a cafe and visitor centre at Birling Gap, said it was aware of the incident and was working with the emergency services. The hospital initially said it had treated 233 people, but later revised the number to 133.


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