After a chlorine accident that has devastated hundreds in the Jordanian coastal city of Aqaba, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh said that “Although the situation is under control, we have decided to keep an isolation distance of 4 kilometers in diameter from the scene of the accident for additional hours.”
Accompanied by the ministers of interior and health in the incident’s region, Al-Khasawneh noted to the Jordanian Al-Mamlaka news channel “that experts’ estimates indicate that there is no danger of gas transmission to residential areas.”
The PM assigned his minister of interior, Mazen Al-Faraya, to investigate the matter and to “find out what happened.”
In the latest numbers, at least 13 people were killed and more than 250 were physically affected – among those are police and emergency workers – when a crane loading gas tanks onto a ship dropped one, releasing plumes of yellow smoke into the air, poisoning people in the vicinities. Around 200 were sent to the hospital.
Before the explosion, a truck carrying a second gas tank was slowly reversing toward the ship, quickly changing its direction when the explosion happened. Workers around the port were seen running away from the area.
Chlorine gas is a poisonous substance widely used in bleach, waste sanitation, drinking water, and pool water to kill bacteria that may cause harm. However, if the gas comes in contact with the skin and eyes, it can cause burning pain, breathing difficulties, and fluid in the lungs – the gas is used as a choking agent in war.
Nidal Majdali, the Jordanian commissioner for tourism and environment, said that the gas leak was limited and there are no risks to public health. The closest residential area to the port is 38 km away. “The effect of the leaked gas has receded,” Majdali said, explaining that “the wind speed at the site of the accident, which amounted to about 1.9 meters per second, in addition to its northern direction, contributed to preventing any expansion of the substance.”
Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya confirmed that “work will resume in all Aqaba ports as of this [Tuesday] morning, with the exception of berth no.4.”
Residents were advised to close their windows and stay in their homes, according to state TV reports.
Yesterday, the Jordanian army closed the area and sent four planes to evacuate the injured, noting in a statement that “Four medical evacuation planes were moved from Marka International Airport in the direction of Aqaba to evacuate the injured, in addition to pushing a team from the chemical support group to carry out disinfection procedures for the site of the accident.”
Source: Agencies (editted by Al-Manar English Website)