Officials’ negligence blamed for deadly chlorine gas leak at Jordan’s Aqaba Port

Screenshot of footage from a CCTV camera at Jordan's Port of Aqaba just moments before this same area of the port became engulfed in a cloud of toxic chlorine gas on June 27, 2022. The incident has left 13 people dead and over 250 others injured. (Photo: Elbadry)

The Jordanian government has relieved a number of officials at the Red Sea port of Aqaba from their respective posts in connection with a deadly chlorine gas leak incident that occurred late last month.

Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh said the decision was made to dismiss the general manager and other senior personnel of the state-owned Aqaba Company for Ports Operation and Management after an investigation revealed “negligence and major deficiencies” with regard to compliance to safety protocols, resulting in the incident on June 27.

On the said date, a steel cable snapped on a crane as it was loading a tank filled with liquefied chlorine gas onto a berthed vessel at the port. The tank then fell to the pier, and the force of the impact resulted in the pressurised container being punctured.

The area was then enveloped in chlorine gas that manifested as bright yellow smoke. Thirteen people were killed while over 250 others suffered non-life-threatening injuries as a result of exposure to the toxic gas.

Regular operations at the port resumed within 24 hours, though evacuations of personnel were ordered and additional safety assessments still needed to be conducted on-site.

Interior Minister Mazin al-Farrayeh said that the port failed to follow safety measures related to the handling of hazardous materials.

The results of the investigation, which includes the testimonies of over 120 people, will be handed over to local prosecutors in preparation for court proceedings.

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