Worthing Pier and part of the seafront was evacuated this afternoon (August 11) amid reports of 'hazardous material' along the beach.
An eyewitness said Worthing Pavilion café was evacuated at around 12.15pm and, shortly after, Sussex Police released a statement saying the seafront had been cordoned off between Grand Avenue in the west and Windsor Road in the east after the discovery of 'hazardous material'.
Pictures from the scene showed the area in lockdown, with Sussex Police, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, the Coastguard and the South East Coast Ambulance Service in attendance.
Into the afternoon, the scene was one of confusion - some shop owners said they were not told to evacuate and one employee on the Worthing Observation Wheel, which is right in the centre of the exclusion zone, was unaware that anything had even unfolded. Others reported being told to stand on the other north side of the road and local residents were warned to keep their windows and doors closed.
Still, consistent reports of stinging eyes and vomiting kept coming in, including staff affected at the Worthing Lido and a shocking story of an 18-month old toddler falling ill at 9am this morning, showing the issue had been around long before the area was cordoned off.
In a tweet at 4.10pm, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the cordon had been lifted, but Sussex Police stayed behind to assist with any queries.
All emergency services finally stood down shortly after 6pm, according to Sussex Police, with investigations continuing into the cause of the illnesses. Two people had been taken to hospital and cleaning advice was given for anyone who suffered any symptoms.
Were you affected by the 'hazardous material' along the seafront today? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org