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Situation under control after toxic chlorine gas leak at Aqaba port — PM

By JT - Jun 28,2022 - Last updated at Jun 28,2022

People gather outside a hospital following a toxic gas explosion in Jordan's Aqaba Port, on Monday (AFP photo)

AMMAN — The situation in Aqaba is under control on Monday night after a toxic chlorine gas leak earlier in the day at the port  killed 12 people and injured around 260, according to Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Bisher Al Khasawneh.

The death toll remained the same as of press time on Monday night. The incident happened when a chemical storage container fell while being transported as a result of a crane malfunction. 

In a number of tweets, Khasawneh said that His Majesty King Abdullah and HRH Crown Prince Hussein have been following up on updates pertaining to the toxic gas leak, directing all the concerned authorities to exert all efforts to deal with the incident.

He added that he directed the minister of Health to place all resources under the disposal of hospitals in the city of Aqaba to deal with the incident.

Khasawneh also assigned the minister of Interior as head of the investigation team to inspect the causes of the incident and ensure the maximum degree of public safety for workers in ports.

Khasawneh arrived in Aqaba to follow up on the efforts exerted to deal with the incident.

The prime minister, accompanied by the interior and health ministers, was briefed on the conditions of casualties evacuated to Prince Hashem Hospital and other hospitals in Aqaba.

Khasawneh also chaired a meeting in the operations unit in Aqaba, in the presence of the Ministers of Interior and Health, and officials in Aqaba to investigate the causes of the incident.  

The Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army has joined other state forces to support them in dealing with the incident.

The area in which the incident took place has been sealed off  by the Southern Military District and the Royal Jordanian Naval Force (RJNF).

RJNF divers succeeded in rescuing a number of casualties.

The Prince Hashem Hospital and the field hospital in Aqaba have been prepared to receive emergency cases. 

Four medical evacuation planes took off from Marka Airport towards Aqaba to evacuate the injured.

Similarly, a number of medical teams from the Royal Medical Services have been sent to Aqaba.

To support medical staff, ambulances were sent to Aqaba Airport and Marka Airport to transport casualties.

Military hospitals including those in Aqaba, Zarqa, Al Hussein Medical City and Queen Alia Hospital have been prepared to receive emergency cases. 

A spokesperson for the Public Security Directorate media said that the civil defence teams in Aqaba declared a state of extreme emergency as soon as they received a report of the incident. 

The teams arrived at the site, which was immediately sealed off, and began search and rescue operations, providing first aid to the injured and rinsing those exposed to chemical substances.

He pointed out that during the operations, 45 injuries were recorded among PSD and civil defence personnel, adding that they received the necessary treatment and were discharged, while five of them, listed in moderate condition, are still under treatment.

He pointed out that inspecting and clearing is still ongoing, in coordination with the Jordan Armed Forces - Arab Army, and all relevant authorities.

A number of 2,500 personnel and 240 specialists from the PSD and civil defence dealt with the incident and transported the injured.

The civil defence team dealing with hazardous substances worked on clearing the site, he said.

Rescue teams and divers also participated in search and rescue operations, he added. 

He noted that two teams from the Forensic and Laboratories Department are present at the site to detect and collect samples for evidence. 

Director of Aqaba Civil Defence Lt. Col. Osama Shobaki said that all the injured, who arrived at Aqaba hospitals as a result of the explosion of a chlorine gas tank on one of the ships anchored in the port of Aqaba, have been provided with first aid.

Individuals who were directly exposed to the gas were douched then admitted to hospitals to receive necessary treatment.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health announced the readiness of the second medical team to be transported to Aqaba via helicopter.

The team includes 32 specialised doctors and nurses from the hospitals of the Ministry of Health and Prince Hamza Hospital.

The second team has been formed in coordination with the National Centre for Security and Crisis Management as well as concerned authorities, Petra, reported.

Chairman of the Private Hospitals Association Fawzi Hammouri announced that the association and all private hospitals stand by the government, the Ministry of Health and all concerned institutions in dealing with the gas leak incident in the Aqaba.

He stressed the hospitals’ readiness to join hands in treating the injured.


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