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More than a dozen dead, hundreds injured in chlorine gas leak in Jordan

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Thirteen people were killed when poisonous chlorine gas escaped the wharf in Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba, officials said.

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

Most were treated for the effects of breathing chlorine gasa common cleaning agent that also has many other industrial uses and can be used as a chemical weapons agent.

The port began to return to normal on Tuesday, with all docks set to reopen except for dock four, where further security checks would be carried out, Interior Minister Mazen al-Faraya said.

“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 broke on a crane loading a tank of liquefied gas onto a ship, causing it to crash to the ground on the wharf.

The force of the fall pierced the pressurized container and enveloped the freighter Forest 6 in a shroud of the bright yellow gas, closed-circuit TV from the harbor showed.

The fallen white tank, punctured and colored yellow from which the gas burst out, came to rest on the dock right next to the Forest 6 vessel. According to ship-tracking websites, the deck cargo vessel was only built this year and flies the flag of Hong Kong.

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

Nidal al-Majali, official with Aqaba’s tourism department, said Monday’s lack of wind helped prevent the gas cloud from spreading outside the port.

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

Chlorine has a range of industrial uses and is notorious for being used as a chemical weapon in World War I. It affects the respiratory system, skin and eyes.

(AFP)

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