Jordan: Toxic gas leak leaves 13 dead and hundreds injured

Thirteen people have died and 251 have been injured in a toxic gas leak from a storage tank at Jordan’s Aqaba port as authorities called on residents to shut windows and stay indoors.

The leak on Monday came after a cable lifting a tank filled with 25 tonnes of chlorine snapped, sending the container crashing down. A video posted on state television’s Twitter page showed the tank slamming into the deck of a ship, releasing clouds of yellow gas that sent dock workers racing away.

A “cable carrying a container containing a toxic substance broke, resulting in the fall and escape of the poisonous substance”. A vessel had been waiting to load almost 20 containers of liquified gas “containing a very high percentage of chlorine”. The gas was heavy and “it is not easy for its gas clouds to move … as it concentrates in one area and is affected by wind movement”.

Aqaba’s southern beach was reportedly evacuated after the incident.

The injured were transported to two state hospitals, one private facility and a field hospital. Aqaba’s health director, Jamal Obeidat, said hospitals were full and the injured people were in “medium to critical condition”. Health ministry officials said they expected only a handful of people to remain in hospital by Tuesday.

Jordan’s Aqaba grain silos halted work to allow inspection of its grains and for any signs of contamination, but maritime traffic at Aqaba ports continues, officials said. There were no vessels unloading any grains cargo at the time of the incident, they added.


The Guardian

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