Relatives of Aqaba victims speak out on lack of safety regulations

WhatsApp Image 2022-06-28 at 10.02.40 AM (1)
(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Families of the eight Jordanians who perished in a gas leak in the Red Sea port city of Aqaba blamed the incident on the negligence of officials in the port and their non-compliance with safety regulations in the workplace.اضافة اعلان

At least 20 tonnes of chlorine escaped when the cable snapped on a crane loading a tank of the liquefied gas onto a ship, sending it crashing to the ground on the dockside.

The force of the fall punctured the pressurized container, enveloping the vessel in a bright yellow gas. Thirteen people, including eight Jordanians, were killed and another 250 were injured in the June 29 incident.

Ibrahim Al-Jeddaya said is 42-year-old brother, Yousef, who died in the incident, worked as a customs clearing agent at the port for the past 27 years.

A father of four, he moved from Amman to Aqaba five years ago after having commuted to the port city from Amman in the earlier years. He was at the port working the day of the gas leak.

Jeddaya said the family looked for him in Aqaba hospitals when it unsuccessfully tried to reach him on his mobile hours after hearing about the incident in the news.

“We went to the hospital to look for him and we found out that he was killed,” he said.

Pictures of four out of eight Jordanians killed in the Aqaba gas leak on June 29. (Photos: Twitter)

“Yousef’s death left my nephews orphaned,” he added. “His 11-year-old child could not believe the news of his father’s death — he’s still asking about him ­­— while the 4-year-old is still questioning us why we put soil atop his father’s body.”

He said his brother often complained about his work conditions and the lack of safety measures to protect workers, especially since there is dangerous material in the area.

Mohamed Al-Kotkot, the father of Eyad, 31, another one of the Jordanian victims, who worked as an operations supervisor for a private firm in Aqaba.

“It is difficult and we need time to comprehend what happened,” he signed.

He echoed Jeddaya’s comments, saying his son often complained about the negligence of officials who are onsite and the complete absence of safety measures.

Amro, another one of the victims, was the only financial supporter to his mother. His father had died years earlier and his brother drowned, also in Aqaba, three years ago.

Amor’s uncle, Yousef said his nephew complained about his work, saying he and other workers were constantly walking “under containers without knowing what dangerous material is inside them”.

“The port is a ticking time-bomb and a worker can be exposed to risks at every moment,” he charged.

He said although the deaths were “unfortunate”, he hoped that they would highlight the port’s shortcomings, primarily the poor and hazardous working conditions.

Yahya Yahya, the father of 24-year-old Rashid, said his son complained about the working conditions in the port, to which he moved some months ago. He said his son worked in the industrial zone for JD200, but took up work at the port because he was paid JD150 more.

“When he complained about conditions at the port, I used to tell him to be patient. Life is difficult and there aren’t many jobs out there. I was waiting for the day when he would get married,” he said, his voice cracking.

“I built a house for him, but now his house is in heaven,” he said. “I didn’t expect that this would be his end.”

On the day of the gas leak, “we learned from social media about the incident. Our relatives were calling to ask about Rashid.”

“We were looking for him from 4:30pm to 10:30pm, when we found his body in the morgue,” he said.

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