Update: 13 dead, over 260 injured after chlorine gas tank ruptures at Aqaba Port

(Photo: Twitter)
AMMAN — A gas leak from a ruptured chlorine tank at the Aqaba Port killed 13 (Eight of them are Jordanians) and more than injured 260 others on Monday, according to Al-Mamlaka TV.اضافة اعلان

Police spokesperson Amer Al-Sartawi said that specialized teams from the Civil Defense Department were responding to the incident at the Aqaba New Port, located roughly 26km from the city of Aqaba.

The tank, containing liquefied chlorine gas, ruptured when the steel cable carrying it onto a ship broke, dropping the tank, according to Hamzeh Al Hajj Hassan, the deputy chief commissioner of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority.

Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh announced the formation of an investigation into the incident headed by Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya, according to government spokesperson Faisal Al-Shboul.

Those injured were evacuated to several nearby hospitals, according to police. They were reported as being in mostly bad to critical condition, according to Aqaba Health Director Jamal Obeidat, who added that "the number of deaths increases by the minute.”

He said that the field hospital in Aqaba is able to receive new patients, but that the city’s hospitals are at capacity.

More health centers will be made available as required, the director said.

What to do if exposed
Leave the area and get to fresh air. Find higher ground, because chlorine gas is denser than air and will sink to lower-lying areas.

If you think you may have been exposed, remove your clothing, rapidly wash your entire body with soap and water, and get medical care as quickly as possible.

If your eyes are burning or your vision is blurred, rinse your eyes with plain water for 10 to 15 minutes.

If you have ingested chlorine, do not induce vomiting or drink fluids.

The port area is reportedly on lockdown and trucks have been forbidden from entering. Aqaba’s southern beach was evacuated following the incident.

The National Center for Security and Crisis Management (NCSCM), in coordination with the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army, deployed four air evacuation planes to support, according to the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

The NCSCM urged residents in Aqaba not to gather in front of hospitals to allow ambulance and rescue teams to move freely.

Aqaba Governor Mohammad Rafaiah said the situation was “under control”.

The former director general of the Aqaba Company for Ports Operation and Management, Muhammad Al-Mubaidin, told Al-Mamlaka that based on the information available to him, a ship in berth no. 2 in the Aqaba New Port was loading approximately 20 tank of liquefied chlorine gas.

He added that a southerly wind will not carry the gas closer to Aqaba’s residential areas.

Chlorine gas, which expands about 457 times from liquid to gas, can be recognized by its pungent, irritating odor, which is like the odor of bleach, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If exposed to dangerous concentrations of chlorine gas, symptoms may include blurred vision; burning pain; and redness, and blisters on the skin if exposed to gas.

If high concentrations of chlorine gas are inhaled, one may feel a burning sensation in the nose, throat, and eyes; coughing; chest tightness; and difficulty breathing. The effects may be delayed if the gas is inhaled in low concentrations.

(Videos: Twitter)

(Photo: Twitter)

This is a developing story.

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