More than 25 people ill after “noxious fumes” leak

AN exclusion zone has been set up at the scene of a chemical incident in Essex.

Two crews from Essex Fire and Rescue Service were scrambled to county council building Essex House in The Crescent, Colchester, just before 12.40pm.

The building has been evacuated and a 400m exclusion zone has been set up after workers fell ill reporting a strange smell.

Transco engineers, who are also at the scene, have now confirmed that there is no gas leak as previously thought.

The officer in charge has reported that there is a noxious smell in the area and specialist teams have been called to identify what exactly is leaking.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: “The safety of our employees is obviously of paramount importance, so emergency measures have been taken, with Essex House employees - including all customer service centre agents - evacuating the building while further investigation takes place.”

Essex police is advising residents living around The Crescent to stay inside and keep their windows closed, while road including The Crescent and Clough Road have been affected because of the cordon.

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East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) paramedics, duty officers and the trust’s hazardous response team are currently at the scene working closely with the emergency services.

Spokesman Gary Sanderson said: “At present our crews are working alongside their blue light colleagues to ascertain exactly what is going on.”

It is thought more than 25 people were taken ill at the incident and were checked over at the scene but did not require further treatment.

Four people took themselves directly to hospital complaining of sore throats and sickness.

An emergency number has been issued for any relatives with concerns for people who have been taken ill.

Anyone worried should call 0800 0920410.