Sussex was complaining “poo la la” yesterday after a French stink bomb drifted across the Channel.
Emergency services were deluged by calls from worried residents as the stench of “rotten eggs” and “underpants” filled the air.
The source of the odour has been pinpointed to a leak at a factory in Rouen in the Normandy region of France.
The foul-smelling gas, which was described by authorities as not dangerous, drifted across the Channel, striking Sussex at 7.30am yesterday.
France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the gas, mercaptan, was harmless – but one Sussex school shut anyway.
The smell hit East Sussex first. By 9.30am people were reporting the stink in Brighton and Hove, Worthing, Haywards Heath, Lancing, Burgess Hill and Crawley.
The Health Protection Agency, describing the odour as “similar to rotten eggs”, said: “It is an unpleasant odour which may cause some people to feel slightly nauseous, but it will dispel natu rally.”
Sussex Police, all the county’s councils, West and East Fire and Rescue and the gas board received scores of calls about the smell, which followed a leak at the factory owned by Lubrizol, a subsidiary of investor Warren Buf- fett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Freelance computer programmer John Speight, 53, of Howard Road, Brighton, said: “I would’ve rather they’d sent the smell of baguettes than this.”
Window cleaner Colin Gunn, 34, of, Hollingbury, Brighton, added: “It smells like underpants.”
Sarah Porter, 46, of Eastbourne, said: “They say it is not harmful but who knows?”
A member of staff at Downwood Vets in Horam, near Heathfield, said staff felt unwell and suffered “headaches and nausea.”
Simon Burgess from Hamilton Lodge Deaf School and College in Walpole Road, Brighton, said: “We had a gas leak out in the road before Christmas so as soon as our staff and students smelt something this morning we reported it straight away.
“It was a relief to find out it was nothing to worry about, and no doubt it will make for some interesting discussions in the science and geography classrooms.”
Heron Way Primary, Horsham, closed because people feared the leak was genuine.
A West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “The school closed as a safety precaution because of the strong smell of gas.
“The gas board was contacted and also advised this was appropriate. At that stage there was no information about the gas cloud.”