Worthing seafront evacuation: Eyewitnesses reveal 'confusion' as masked officers confront 'hazardous material'

Emergency services at the scene
Emergency services at the scene

The evacuation of Worthing Pier and seafront this morning has led to confusion and some reports of illness along the coast.

Lido Cafe owner Karl said he had never seen anything like it in over a decade on the seafront.

Karl from The Lido Caf

Karl from The Lido Caf

"We got sore eyes in the morning," he said. "But we didn't see any police until about 1pm. There were lots of people saying about their eyes stinging and being sore. We thought it was maybe just the sand in the air or something like that."

The Lido Café had not had to close, he added.

According to Worthing Lido employee Sebastian Beighton, some staff were ordered by police to close down their shops in case the wind changed from the south at around 12.15pm this afternoon.

It followed a police warning for all locals to close their windows and doors. Read more here: Worthing Pier and seafront shut down after 'hazardous material' causes vomiting and sore eyes

Several Lido workers had reported having stinging eyes, said Sebastian, but it had since been reopened.

Worthing's Pavilion café was also evacuated at around the same time. Matt Nolan, who works at the Pavilion and helped to evacuate customers, said officers with masks were all along the seafront. He said: "We didn't know what was going on, it was just confusion.

"We were told to take everyone over to the other side of the road but no-one told us what was happening really so we were just like 'oh, okay'.

"It was more of an inconvenience to us than anything."

Pictures show Worthing seafront locked down and deserted after ‘hazardous material’ discovered

The recently erected Worthing Observation Wheel was almost closed down but officers changed their mind at the last minute, according to an employee. He was not aware that a 'hazardous material' had even been discovered.

The atmosphere was a mixture of confusion and calm, with all buildings reopened around the pier and the public continuing on with their day.

Multiple police vehicles and officers were still on the scene as of around 2.30pm and coastline in East Worthing, near Windsor Road, was still sealed off.