According to state media, a deadly gas leak from a storage tank at Jordan’s Aqaba port has resulted in the deaths of thirteen people and the injuries of 251 others. Authorities have urged locals to remain inside their homes with the windows locked and to avoid going outside.
On Monday, a cable that was raising a tank that was full of 25 tonnes of chlorine broke, which caused the container to fall to the ground, which resulted in the leak. A video that was uploaded to the Twitter page of state television showed a tank colliding with the deck of a ship, causing clouds of yellow gas to be released and sending dock employees running in the other direction.
According to state TV, city health officials encouraged citizens to remain inside their houses, with the windows closed, and to avoid going outside. Haj Hassan, the deputy chairman of the Aqaba Region Ports Authority, was quoted as saying that a “cable holding a container containing a deadly product broke, resulting in the collapse and release of the poisonous substance” by the local radio Al-Mamlaka.
The station said that Mohammed al-Mubaidin, a former head of the firm that manages the port, stated that a vessel had been waiting to load approximately 20 containers of liquified gas “carrying a very high amount of chlorine.” According to him, the gas was dense and “it is not simple for its gas clouds to move… as it accumulates in one region and is impacted by wind movement.” He mentioned this because the gas was difficult to move.
If ingested, chlorine gas changes into hydrochloric acid, which may cause internal burning as well as drowning due to a reactive release of water from the lungs. Chlorine is extensively employed as a disinfectant and as a water purification agent. The local media displayed images of members of the civil defence troops and medical personnel running to the location of the leak while wearing masks.
Work at Jordan’s Aqaba grain silos has been suspended to enable for examination of the country’s grains and for the detection of any symptoms of contamination, although authorities have said that marine activity at Aqaba ports would continue. They went on to say that at the time of the occurrence, there were no boats discharging any cargo consisting of grains.
Since ancient times, the port of Aqaba, which is located at the northernmost tip of the Red Sea, has served as an important thoroughfare for the import and export of goods from Iraq. According to a report on state-run television, the Prime Minister of Jordan, Bisher al-Khasawneh, arrived in Aqaba and proceeded to a hospital where some of the wounded were receiving treatment. The information minister was quoted by state TV as adding that Al-Khasawneh has also constituted an inquiry committee investigating the event. The team would be led by the minister of the interior.