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Tuesday, 9 April, 2002, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Beach 'chemical burns' tests negative
Prohibition notice at Llanelli beach
Swimming has been banned following the incident
First results of seawater tests carried after a suspected chemical spill on a west Wales beach have proved negative.

However, a ban on swimmers on the beach at Llanelli has been extended for a second day while investigations continue.

Six children aged between six and 10 were all treated in hospital after coming out in rashes and blisters following a paddle near the promenade at the town's North Dock on Monday afternoon.

Our samples were taken within two hours but we have found absolutely nothing

Martin Watkins, Environment Agency

First results on the test samples taken within two hours of the children being injured have come back negative, the Environment Agency confirmed on Tuesday.

Algae or jellyfish were now being investigated as a possible source of the problem.

Council officials reacted swiftly by mounting patrols along the beach to warn off potential swimmers tempted by the warm weather to take a spring dip.

"Our samples were taken within two hours but we have found absolutely nothing," said Martin Watkins of the Environment Agency.

"We are liaising with the local health authority who are now looking at the possibility that it might have been something land based.

"But for the moment the cause of the problem remains a mystery and I would certainly advise against swimming."

Burned skin of children after swimming
The children suffered blisters and burns
A spokesman for the council said the source of the burns could have been a chemical spill, green algae or jellyfish.

"We will be asking the Environment Agency to have a closer look at what is causing the problem and in the meantime the ban remains in force," said the spokesman.

The youngsters were all treated at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli, but were not seriously injured.

Ann Curwood said her children had only been paddling for a few minutes when they came running up to her.

"They came up to the car crying, a red rash all over them, moaning that they were really burning."

Her daughter Rebecca said: "We came out and we were stinging.

"Then we had a rash - we went home, put cold water on it and washed our legs."

The authority described the measures as "precautionary" until it could establish the cause of the incident.

The BBC's Wyre Davis
"Children affected are being treated in hospital"
See also:

05 Jun 01 | Wales
Beaches lose Blue Flag status
05 Jun 01 | UK
Blue Flag beaches 2001
31 May 00 | Wales
Red faces over blue flags
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