POLICE closed off a three-mile stretch of beach after a mysterious white powder was washed up on the shore.

The unknown substance was found on the beach at Hunmanby Gap, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire, at about 1.45pm today.

Police cordoned off the beach and a specialist unit was called in to analyse the substance.

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire Police said: "As a precaution, the beach has been closed to members of the public and police are asking people to observe the closures until the precise nature of the items has been identified and officers are satisfied there is no longer a health risk.

"Police are working with partner agencies including the coastguard, fire service, Environment Agency, Health Protection Agency and Scarborough Borough Council to clear the beach and to establish the exact nature of the items and how they came to be washed up on the beach."

At this stage, no health issues have been reported and police are asking any members of the public who find any packages to report them to the police on 0845-6060247.