Bathers ‘coughing and struggling to breathe’ at busy seafront

Beachgoers in Essex are reportedly 'struggling to breathe' at an Essex seafront this afternoon.

Emergency services have been called to the Frinton seafront after receiving several reports of people coughing.

Police, the ambulance service and the fire service are at the seafront off Fourth Avenue in Frinton, after receiving calls shortly after 2pm on Sunday.

A triage point has been set up at Walton pier, according to people who had been on the beach this afternoon.

Families were out soaking up the sun at the beach today until they suddenly found their children were returning from the water with severe coughs, according to the Clacton and Frinton Gazette.

One parent told the paper: "After a short while my daughter started coughing.

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"We thought she had swallowed some sea water but then we noticed a few people around us with kids coughing."

Mum-of-two Miriam Lansdell said: "My daughter started coughing. She said 'I don't feel good. It hurts to breathe in'.

"My other daughter was gasping and couldn't form words because she couldn't breathe well enough."

The 45-year-old mental health worker from Derbyshire, who was visiting her parents in Essex for the Bank Holiday weekend, said she had also had difficulty breathing as she lay on the sand drying off after a dip in the water.

She said they all began to breathe easier when they moved further away from the beach, but took the 10-year-old win girls to a walk-in clinic to be checked over by medical staff.

Ms Lansdell said her father had been told by someone in a speedboat, who he assumed to be associated with the coastguard, that there may have been a fuel spill.

She said: "My dad said he had been asked to get out of the water by a man on a boat. He asked why and the man said there had been a fuel spill. He said if anyone is having breathing difficulties they should probably call an ambulance."

She added: "It's not what you expect when you go for a day out to the beach."

Vikki Smith told Mirror Online: "Myself, partner and our 4 year old daughter were at Frinton today and were all affected by coughing, tight chest and wheezing including my partner who didnt even go in the sea.

"My daughter had quite a severe cough which I put down to swallowing sea water but then we noticed other people around us coughing.

"My partner said he felt unwell and couldn't breathe deeply without coughing –  he was just sat on the beach all day although he did collect sea water for the sandcastle moat he didnt actually go in."

Beachgoers said they had been left struggling to breathe but the cause is unknown and is being investigated.

Speculation online of a fuel spill was not confirmed by police or the ambulance service.

One person tweeted that there were "lots of people coughing heavily", while a mother said her son began coughing after swimming and had to be given his inhaler.

Another said: "We have just left Frinton and have seen lots of fire engines on the way out. Has there been an incident? We were on the beach and all developed a cough and were struggling to breathe."

A spokeswoman for East of England Ambulance Service said: "We are aware of an incident on Sunday 25 August with reports of a number of people suffering from coughing on the seafront off Fourth Avenue, Frinton.

"We are assisting the police and fire services with this incident. The cause is currently unknown."

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