Bomb squad called to Birling Gap

Birling Gap Erosion SUS-151006-161335001
Birling Gap Erosion SUS-151006-161335001

A phosphorus flare which had been lying buried on the beach at Birling Gap was successfully destroyed by members of the Royal Navy bomb squad this morning (Wednesday, November 18).

The phosphorus location beacon had been uncovered during the recent of spell high tides and strong winds.

It was spotted yesterday by a team of archaeologists who were looking for the remains of a Bronze Age well shaft.

They immediately alerted the local Coastguard, National Trust and Wealden District Council, who is responsible for the foreshore. The beach was evacuated and access to beach staircase and viewing platform was closed.

The bomb squad identified the device yesterday but were unable to carry out a controlled explosion until this morning, the next low tide during daylight hours. Debris has now been removed and the beach reopened.

“It goes to show just how important it is to be aware of the possible risks when visiting the beach at Birling Gap and Cuckmere Haven,” said Wealden’s Countryside Officer, Graham Kean.

“Our main concern for beach safety this time of the year is for the cliffs. They are fragile at the best of times. Heavy rain, strong winds and high tides make falls more likely, although no one can predict exactly when these will occur.”

Members of the public are advised not to touch anything on the beach that they are not sure of, and if they are suspicious that it could be dangerous, to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

The location beacon dated from a period after the Second World War. It had been deployed but had failed to go off.

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