Warning on washed up flares

POLICE issued a stern warning today urging people not to touch military weapons found washed up on beaches after a birdwatcher handed officers a potentially dangerous flare.

POLICE issued a stern warning today urging people not to touch military weapons found washed up on beaches after a birdwatcher handed officers a potentially dangerous flare.

Two modern US Navy marker flares were found at Landguard at Felixstowe yesterdaynot far from each other.

Officers believed the large flares could be live and said it was unclear if they had been fired or had not gone off - one of them was armed and ready for firing.

The police were called after the discovery of one the 1.5ft long phosphorus flares, and then a birdwatcher handed them another found a short way along the shingle beach.

Officers said the flare was clearly marked that it should not be handled and people should call the police or army if found, and believed the item was potentially live and dangerous.

A police spokesman said: “We would urge people not to touch flares or weapons found washed ashore on beaches - the state of these items is not always clear and people should be very cautious.

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“They should be left in situ and marked so their position can be identified - or someone left at a distance to keep an eye and make sure other members of the public do not go near - while the police are called.

“Officers will then take over and keep the area safe until the military can deal with them.”

As well it being uncertain if ordinance washed ashore has been fired or not, the condition of items can also be unstable after a period in the sea.

Two police officers stood guard over the flares at Landguard until a Portsmouth-based Royal Navy bomb disposal unit could attend and deal with them.

Petty Officer Dave Moore said: “Both of the flares had fired but there was still some residue left inside. They can still function even if they have been in the water a long time.”

Most of the military hardware washed ashore on Suffolk's beaches is from the second world war and has been on the seabed, often buried, for decades. A number of shells, mines and other items have been found previously.

The marker flares though are said to be modern US Navy issue.

It is not known whether the US Navy have been patrolling or on exercise in the North Sea and lost the flares or whether they have been carried by the tides from further afield.

No-one was able to comment at the US Embassy in London.

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