Coastal alert over missing landmines

Click to follow
The Independent Online
ESSEX police have warned holidaymakers to be careful after a two-day search on the east coast for missing boxes of unexploded mines has left one still unaccounted for.

Eight wooden boxes, each containing 90 small landmines believed to have come from the Ministry of Defence installation at Shoeburyness, had been washed out to sea and floated ashore along the coast. They have been found at Mersea Island, Holland Haven, Frinton-on-Sea, on the river Blackwater estuary and in the river Orwell near Harwich estuary.

The bad weather meant that police could not search the sea by launch, but had to use foot patrols and helicopters. The search for the missing box was due to resume at first light this morning.

Chief Inspector David Hicks of the Essex force warned that the missing box could have broken open. 'If the mines and detonators are not kept separate but are tampered with, they are very dangerous. They should not be touched.'

An 81-year-old-man died yesterday when he was blown over by high winds in Lymington, Hampshire. Police said the man had a pacemaker which stopped when he fell, and he 'suffered a massive heart attack'.

The weather also caused problems for cross-Channel travellers. Hovercraft services from Dover to Calais, Seacat services from Folkestone to Boulogne and Jetfoil services from Ramsgate to Ostend were all cancelled. Sally Line cancelled two ferry crossings to Ostend and ferries from Ramsgate were two hours late.

More than 5,000 Hoverspeed passengers faced chaos at Dover as all 14 Channel crossings were cancelled.

In the South-west, 11,000 homes lost electricity when trees brought power lines down in the gales last week and in Wales more than 4,000 were cut off early yesterday, although most were reconnected by the end of the day.

AA Roadwatch reported few problems yesterday, except in exposed areas. The high winds closed the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge over the Thames at Dartford in Kent for three hours and high- sided vehicles and motorcycles were turned back from the Severn Bridge.

The London Weather Centre forecast a wet and windy Easter with deceptive sunny intervals but more strong, blustery showers with sleet and snow on higher ground.