Aug. 28 (UPI) — A mysterious chemical haze sickened over 150 people in a town in Sussex, England, on the English Channel, police said.
Residents and visitors to a beach at Birling Gap reported vomiting and irritation to their eyes and throat on Sunday afternoon, and long lines for treatment were seen at a local hospital. The first patients were given a complete decontamination treatment, but police later said that the procedure was unnecessary; they advised a complete washing with soap and water as the antidote.
Those affected speculated on the cause of the haze, which appeared to have come from across the Channel. The local fire department said it was “extremely unlikely” the haze was deadly chlorine, and The Telegraph reported Monday that the gas cloud may have been caused by a bloom of algae in the water in the Channel. Emergency services originally suspected a possible industrial leak in France, on the other side of the channel, but later said wind patterns suggest that if it was man-made, the haze would have come from the British side.
Local businesses closed early. A McDonald’s restaurant installed a window sign blaming a “chlorine gas leak” for its closure.
The haze was largely dissipated by 11 p.m., Sky News reported, but an investigation into the incident continued.