An investigation is underway after multiple beachgoers on the Essex seafront said they had been left coughing and struggling to breathe.
Police, ambulance and fire service personnel were all called to the coast near Fourth Avenue in Frinton-on-Sea after receiving calls at around 2pm on Sunday as people took to the coast to cool off during the hottest spell of bank holiday weekend weather on record.
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.
Miram Lansdell, a mental health worker from Derbyshire, was on a family day out when one of her twin 10-year-old daughters was left “gasping” for breath
She 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 said she had also found it difficult to breathe as she dried off from a dip in the water.
It is currently unclear what caused the incident, however some in the area have speculated that the symptoms may have been caused by pollution from a fuel spill.
Both police and ambulance services operating in the area have not confirmed this to be the case, stating that the cause is “unknown”.
Ms Lansdell added: “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.”
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."
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies