AMMAN (AFP) – Ten people were killed and more than 200 injured Monday (June 27) in a toxic gas explosion in Jordan’s Aqaba port, authorities said.
Footage on state TV showed a large cylinder plunging from a crane on a moored vessel, causing a violent release of a yellow gas.
The force of the blast sent a truck rolling down the harbourside, while port workers could be seen running for their lives. Nearby areas were evacuated and residents told to stay indoors.
The death toll rose to 10, government spokesman Faisal al-Shaboul told AFP, revising an initial toll of five killed. Prime Minister Bishr Khasawneh and Interior Minister Mazen al-Faraya headed to the site of the accident, state media reported.
Civil defence spokesman Amer al-Sartawy earlier reported that 234 people were injured after the tank filled with toxic gas fell. “Specialists and the hazardous substances team in the civil defence are dealing” with the incident, Sartawy added.
According to Jordanian official sources, Aqaba’s southern beach was evacuated following the incident. The injured were transported to two state hospitals, one private facility and a field hospital.
Aqaba health director Jamal Obeidat said that hospitals were full in the area and “cannot receive more cases”.
“The injured people are in medium to critical condition,” he added. He called on residents of Aqaba to “stay in their homes and shut all windows as a precaution”, stating that the chemical substance is very dangerous, without specifying what it was.
“The government formed a team headed by the interior minister to investigate the accident and take the necessary measures,” al-Shaboul said. The government spokesman urged citizens not to approach the site of the accident, adding that medical reinforcements were being sent to Aqaba.
Jordan’s Aqaba port is the country’s only marine terminal and a key transit point for a vast portion of its imports and exports.