Hampshire's fire service also received calls about strong gas smell

The control room of Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service has reported receiving more than twenty calls today about a strong smell of gas in the air.

In a statement they said: 'The unpleasant odour is understood to emanate from a leak in a factory in Rouen in northern France.

'The Health Protection Agency has stressed the gas is non-toxic and presents no threat to the public. The chemical released - mercaptan - is an organic compound added to natural gas, lubricants and paints. The smell is caused by the sulphur in the gas but it is completely harmless.'

The initial alert to the Hampshire control room came from their counterparts in West Sussex. The calls from the public came from as far apart as far north in Hampshire as Basingstoke and Andover, and as far west as Ringwood.

"Our control room has dealt with a number of calls reporting the unpleasant gas smell.

"We want to reassure the public that the gas presents no threat to health and is completely harmless.

"We would also like to remind the public that if they suspect they are dealing with a genuine gas emergency in their home or building, they should call the National Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111999."

– Group Manager Tony Deacon, Hampshire Fire & Rescue Service

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Gas cloud poses 'no risk'

Residents along the south coast are being reassured that a cloud that left a smell of gas in the air poses no risk. The cloud is believed to have come across from an accidental discharge from a factory in France.