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10 dead, over 200 hurt in toxic gas leak in Aqaba, Jordan

Aqaba toxic gas leak jordan
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Thirteen people were killed, including at least four Asian migrants, when toxic chlorine gas escaped on the dockside in the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba, officials said.

More than 250 people were injured in the accident Monday, of whom 123 remained in hospital on Tuesday, according to the latest toll update.

Most were being treated for the effects of breathing chlorine gas, a common cleaning agent that also has a range of other industrial uses and can be employed as a chemical weapons agent.

The port began returning to normal Tuesday, with all docks due to be reopen except for Dock Four, where further safety checks were to be carried out, said Interior Minister General Mazen al-Faraya.

“The situation in Aqaba is now under control,” Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh told state television after visiting the port late Monday.

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

The force of the fall punctured the pressurised container, enveloping the freighter Forest 6 in a shroud of the bright yellow gas, closed circuit TV images from the port showed.

The fallen white tank, punctured and stained yellow from where the gas burst out, came to rest on the dock directly beside the Forest 6 vessel. Ship-tracking websites say the deck cargo ship was built only this year and sails under a Hong Kong flag.

The nearby south beach, which is popular with tourists, was evacuated after Monday’s accident, as were adjacent residential areas but residents were later told they could return to their homes.

Aqaba tourist department official Nidal al-Majali said the lack of wind on Monday helped to prevent the gas cloud spreading outside the port.

Jordan’s Aqaba port is the country’s only maritime gateway and a transit point for the lion’s share of its imports and exports.

Chlorine has a range of industrial uses and is infamous for its use as a chemical weapons agent in World War I. It attacks the respiratory system, skin and eyes.

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.




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