BEACHGOERS have been told they can now return to the water following a scare that saw 150 people taken ill after entering the sea in north Essex.

Emergency services were called to Walton, Frinton and Clacton beaches on Sunday after swimmers suffered breathing problems.

Officials say there have been no further reported incidents.

The Environment Agency has carried out tests, but the cause is still unknown.

Despite speculation of a fuel spill from a ship, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which sent a counter surveillance pollution aircraft to the scene, said no evidence of this has been found.

A spokesman for Tending Council said: “There have been no reported incidents in relation to the seawater over the last two days.

"Our current guidance for the public is to use caution around the water.

“Should anyone enter the water and experience symptoms such as irritation to eyes or minor difficulty in breathing, they should rinse or wash and change their clothes, and drink fresh water.

"If they continue to be concerned or unsure dial 111, the non-emergency health number for advice.

“Incidents such as these are not unheard of around the country’s coastline, and often with the tides pass quickly, we have taken precautions until we are satisfied there is no further risk.

“We are still awaiting test results, but we have been advised there is no guarantee these will prove conclusive.

"We are aware of a number of speculated causes, ranging from algae, a fuel spillage and a spike in pollution and ozone levels, and we would reassure the public we have looked into a whole range of possibilities.

"However, it is possible we will never know for sure what caused this incident.”