A DANGEROUS explosive flare was blown up near Beachy Head by the bomb squad yesterday after it was found on the beach.

Birling Gap beach was first evacuated and closed on Tuesday and the bomb squad informed after archaeologists found the incendiary device while excavating a Bronze Age well shaft.

The coastguard was alerted and the Explosive Ordinance Disposal squad from the Royal Navy was called but safe detonation had to await yesterday morning’s low tide.

A team from the Royal Navy’s Southern Diving Squad Two - part of the disposal squad - arrived around 10am yesterday morning and blew up a phosphorous flare in a controlled explosion.

A Navy spokeswoman said: "They arrived at low water this morning and liaised with the coastguard.

"The item they needed to deal with was one M25 phosphorous marine marker.

"This is quite a modern thing, not a historical device, it's used by search and rescue teams.

"Due to the nature of what it was they had to destroy it in situ on the beach to make it safe."

Phosphorus is often used for naval flares - but the chemical burns at almost 900c and can tear through human flesh.

Putting water on the burns only makes it worse.

This is the second such flare to appear in ten days, following the device which washed up on a Rottingdean beach on Sunday, November 8.

A navy spokeswoman explained that the coincidence was no cause for alarm and was probably caused by recent stormy weather throwing up devices from the sea floor.

The item lay below the high water mark and was therefore a Coastguard rather than a police matter.

Police first said they did not know about the incident. They then suggested that the bomb squad's attendance might be linked to the discovery of dangerous materials in Uckfield on Tuesday and then they told The Argus that the morning's explosion was a result of military training.

They later confirmed they became aware of the incident at Birling Gap when a passer-by called 101 at 10.46am yesterday to say that they had heard an explosion.

Sussex Police's Media Team Manager Jill Pedersen said: "This was not a police matter and with the incident safely contained by HM Coastguard and EOD, there was not a requirement for police to be notified."

The UK Coastguard always advises people to stay away from flares or ordinance that wash up on the beaches.

Military and search and rescue flares are often metallic tubes, around 16 inches (40cm) long and around two to three inches (5 – 6cm) in diameter.