A menacing white foam covered one of India’s most famous beaches in Chennai for the fourth straight day on Monday, creating a new pollution hazard for the country.
Children have been playing and taking selfies in the clouds of white suds on Marina Beach, even though they give off an acrid smell and fishermen have been told not to go into the sea nearby.
Doctors have warned that skin problems could be caused by the foam, which forms every monsoon season but has been particularly bad this year.
Word has not got through to the hundreds of families who throng India’s longest urban beach, letting children happily skip in the toxin-filled froth.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board said it is analysing samples from the foam which has spread several kilometres along the beach.
“It is definitely not good for people to go into the foam but they just do not understand the risks,” said Pravakar Mishra, a scientist at the National Centre for Coastal Research in Chennai who has seen the clouds of foam grow in recent years.