Page last updated at 20:20 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 21:20 UK

Children ill after chlorine leak

Scene (pic: West Midlands Ambulance Service)
A total of 48 people were treated (pic: West Midlands Ambulance Service)

Almost 50 people, mainly children, have been affected by a suspected chlorine leak at a Black Country swimming pool.

More than 30 people, aged eight to 26, were taken to hospital following the incident on Pear Tree Lane in Coseley, near Wolverhampton.

Emergency services were called to the swimming baths at about 1310 BST.

Patients complained of difficulty in breathing, nose and throat irritation, watering eyes and panic attacks, West Midlands Ambulance Service said.

Some casualties ran out of the pool in their swimming costumes and were given thermal blankets to keep warm.

There were anxious moments for parents waiting to be reunited with their children

A total of 48 people were treated. Sixteen were taken to New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton, three to Sandwell General Hospital in West Bromwich and 13 to Russells Hall in Dudley.

"A further 16 were treated and discharged at the scene by the doctors," an ambulance service spokesman said.

"Approximately half were kept at the scene until their parents could come and collect them."

BBC correspondent Giles Latcham said about three or four dozen "anxious" parents were at the scene several hours later.

People living within 400m of the swimming pool were advised to keep all windows and doors closed and report any symptoms to their GP or NHS Direct.

Fire service chemical experts were investigating the incident.

Safety checks

Up to 50 firefighters were initially called to the pool, along with members of the ambulance's specialist Hazardous Area Response Team.

Last month Dudley Council agreed to close the pool in the summer after recent safety checks showed repairs to the building, which first opened in 1963, would cost in excess of £2m.

Mike Fox, from West Midlands Fire Service, told BBC News that chlorine levels were now being monitored.

"We now believe it's been some form of chlorine-related gas that's been released within that building, in the swimming pool," he said.

"At the moment we have got firefighters wearing gas-proof suits inside the building monitoring chlorine levels."

It is thought many people could have left the pool before any symptoms could have started.

Experts warned anyone who may develop symptoms to remove the affected clothing, shower, put clean clothes on and go outside and breathe fresh air.

A spokesperson for the Health Protection Agency said most people who have developed symptoms following exposure to chlorine will not suffer any long-term effects.



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SEE ALSO
Costly repairs sees baths close
19 Mar 09 |  West Midlands
Council decision due over baths
18 Mar 09 |  West Midlands

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