At least 12 people died Monday in Jordan and more than 250 others were injured after a container overturned in the port of Aqaba, releasing toxic gas.
“A chlorine leak occurred at 3:15 p.m. (local time) in the port of Aqaba after a container with liquid gas fell, resulting in the death of twelve people and injuring 260 Jordanians and foreigners,” said the government crisis unit in a press release.
Aqaba, one of the main ports on the Red Sea, located in the south of the country, is the only seaport in the Hashemite Kingdom, through which most Jordanian imports and exports pass. According to the spokesman for general security, Amer al Sartawi, “a container filled with toxic gas overturned during transport, causing a leak” at the scene. According to officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, this container fell from a boat and the southern area of the port was evacuated.
Heavy yellow smoke
Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh and his Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya visited the site, according to the official Al-Mamlaka television channel. According to images published by this television, a crane carrying the container drops it above the boat. After the shock, yellow smoke escapes instantly, while people try to flee.
The deputy chief of the Aqaba Region Ports Authority, Haj Hassan, told al-Mamlaka that an “iron rope carrying a container containing a toxic substance broke, resulting in the fall and escape of the poisonous substance”.
The injured were transferred to two public hospitals, a private hospital and a fourth field hospital, authorities said. Aqaba Health Director Jamal Obeidat said “hospitals in Aqaba were overwhelmed and could no longer receive other injured people”, some of whom are in critical condition. He called on the inhabitants of Aqaba “to stay at home and close the windows as a precaution”, specifying that “the substance present in the atmosphere was very dangerous”.
In addition, the government spokesman, Fayçal al-Choubou, announced on television the formation of a commission of inquiry, headed by the Minister of the Interior. At the same time, he called on the population not to approach the scene of the accident and announced the dispatch of medical reinforcements and equipment to this region.