Navy bomb squad called to Birling Gap

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A Royal Navy bomb squad have disposed of an incendiary device at Birling gap this morning (November 18).

The disposal team destroyed a phosphorous flare in a controlled explosion at around 10am.

The device was reported to coastguard who cordoned off the beach and called the navy.

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.”

A Royal Navy Spokesman confirmed the flare had been destroyed in situ by a team from Southern Diving Squad Two this morning.

The spokesman described the incident as a routine operation.

While commonly used as naval beacons, phosphorus flares are considered dangerous due to the heat at which the chemical burns.

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