Umbrellas and sunbeds were used as weapons during a massive brawl on the beach as anger boiled over after a baking hot day.
The Belgian town of Blaknenberge, near Bruges, has been closed off to tourists after the fight which brought ‘total chaos’ to the seaside resort.
The scrap started yesterday when a lifeguard told a group of around 40 young people to move from a breakwater wall on the beach, the Brussels Times reports.
Police were called after the group reportedly refused to leave. This led to violent clashes between beachgoers in their swimsuits and police wielding batons and wearing face masks.
Dramatic footage shared online showed one man chucking an umbrella at lines of officers and another throwing a plastic chair into the crowd.
Describing the incident, a bar manager told the Belgian newspaper De Standaard: ‘There was suddenly massive fighting and total chaos broke out. Sun umbrellas and sunbeds flew, windsurfing poles were used as weapons.’
Sand was also thrown at police as they tried to clear the area. A number of people have reportedly been arrested.
The town is a poplar destination for both Belgian and international tourists. Its mayor, Daphné Dumery, condemned the violence. She said: ‘I think this is terrible. For people who come with good intention and want to enjoy a day in Blankenberge, this is very bad. I think of children and their parents.’
It comes as Belgium experiences an extreme heatwave which has led the country to be put under a ‘code red’ warning. Temperatures have risen to 37 degrees celsius over the course of the weekend.
Day-trippers have been banned from travelling to Blackenberge today after the violence. No trains can stop at the resort between 9am and 4pm. Police will also patrol the area and set up checkpoints on major roads to turn away any tourists attempting to visit.
Only residents, second-home owners, overnight tourists and people working in the city will be admitted.
Mayor Dumery said: ‘Our city needs a time-out. On Sunday we want to keep day-trippers out of Blankenberge as much as possible. With this measure we hope to restore peace.’
The mayor also alleged that most of those involved in the brawl have now been caught and that the majority of them had pre-existing criminal records.
It comes as Belgium was removed from the UK’s ‘safe list’ of countries for travellers yesterday after a spike in coronavirus cases.
Visitors returning from the country will now have to quarantine for 14 days. According to figures published on Thursday, Belgium has a rate of 49.2 new cases per 100,000 people, above the UK’s latest rate of 14.3.
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