The number of victims of the explosion of a liquefied chlorine gas tank in Aqaba has risen to thirteen, while the number of injured has exceeded 250, of whom 120 are still receiving treatment in hospital, according to statements by Jordan’s Minister of State for Information Affairs, Faisal Shboul.
On Tuesday, Jordanian Prime Minister Bishr Al-Khasawneh confirmed that “the situation in Aqaba is under control” after a poisonous gas leaked from a container that fell from a ship in the port, while the death toll from the accident rose to 13 people.
A tank containing twenty tons of liquefied chlorine gas exploded in the port after it fell on the edge of a ship in the port of Aqaba due to the breakage of the iron rope of the crane that was transporting it from the tanker to the ship.
The Government Crisis Center said in a statement on Monday evening: “At exactly 15:15 this afternoon, a chlorine gas leak occurred in the port of Aqaba as a result of the fall and explosion of a tank containing this substance, and the accident caused the death of 12 people and the injury of 260, including Jordanians and foreigners,” noting that ” 123 of them are still receiving treatment in hospitals.”
The Crisis Center added that “the concerned authorities dealt with the leakage incident and isolated the affected area by imposing a cordon of 500 meters, and evacuating the southern beach of those present.” He pointed out that “the concerned authorities are currently working to cleanse the scene of the accident from the effects of the leak, in preparation for the return of life to normal.”
Al-Khasana, who is in the coastal city of Aqaba (328 km south of Amman), accompanied by the ministers of interior and health, said in statements to the official “Al-Mamlaka” channel, “Although the situation is under control, we decided to keep an isolated distance of four kilometers at the scene of the accident for additional hours,” noting that Experts estimate that there is no danger of gas moving to residential areas.
He continued, “I assigned the Minister of the Interior to head an investigation team that includes all the competent authorities to find out what exactly happened in this unfortunate incident, and to ensure the provision of the highest levels of public safety for our children working in ports and to devote safety procedures in dealing with dangerous materials.”
For his part, Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya confirmed that “work will resume in all Aqaba ports as of Tuesday morning, with the exception of berth No. 4, in order to allow the way to ensure its safety once and for all.”
For his part, the Commissioner for Tourism and Environment at the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, Nidal Al-Majali, confirmed that “the impact of the leaked gas has receded.”
“The wind speed at the accident site, which reached about 1.9 meters per second, and its northern direction, contributed to preventing any expansion of the material,” he told Jordan News Agency.
He stressed that “there is no tendency for any gases, odors or damage to the city from the site of the accident, and no high concentrations that affect health at the site of the accident.”
However, the general manager of the silos, Imad Al-Tarawneh, confirmed that “work will be suspended on Monday and Tuesday, and checks will be conducted for the entire quantity of grain stored in the Aqaba silos, as a matter of confirmation.”
He reassured the safety of the grains from the Aqaba incident, and explained that “the silos are cement and they are tightly closed,” noting that “in spite of that, all necessary precautions were (taken), and all unloading and distortion operations for filling with mills were stopped.”
Tarawneh added that “there are no ships currently carrying grain.”
The director of the Aqaba Company for Ports Management and Operation Khaled Al-Maaytah stated earlier that “the accident is about 600 meters away from the wheat ports.”
The city of Aqaba is the only sea port in the Kingdom, and most of Jordan’s imports and exports pass through it. It is one of the main ports in the Red Sea region and an important tourist site in the country.