People have been warned to stay indoors with their windows closed after a chemical leak caused a cloud containing hydrochloric acid to form over West Thurrock in Essex.

Thurrock Council recommended schools in the area remain closed on Tuesday as a precaution to prevent pupils from being exposed to fumes which can be a "minor irritant".

The fire service first got reports of a cloud of fumes on Monday afternoon following a reaction involving a cylinder at an industrial site in Stoneness Road. Firefighters are trying to work out what chemicals were involved.

Cloud of fumes caused by a chemical leak Credit: PA

We understand that the cloud includes an amount of hydrochloric acid. A 100-metre exclusion zone was created at the site as a precautionary measure. We now know that these fumes were caused by a tank that has failed, the leak is contained to within the site. Firefighters are now safely managing the leak and this process is expected to continue for some time.

Neil Fenwick, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

Public Health England has advised residents to remain inside with doors and windows closed, and drivers are advised to keep their air conditioning off.

Those with existing respiratory problems have been urged to keep medication with them and call 111 if they feel unwell.