A chlorine gas leak from a storage tank killed 13 people and injured over 300 others at a port in Jordan on June 27. The incident happened in the city of Aqaba on the Red Sea coast in the south of the country after a 25-tonne tank filled with chlorine gas fell while being loaded onto a ship at the facility.
Screenshot of CCTV footage from the scene
Jordan’s state media said that the chlorine tank was in the process of being exported to Djibouti when it was dropped at the Aqaba Port. Footage filmed at the scene from CCTV cameras showed the tank falling from a winch onto the deck of a ship before a yellow gas cloud began to form, causing people to run away.
Chlorine is often used in cleaning products, as well as disinfectant and water purification. If inhaled, it turns into hydrochloric acid which can lead to internal bleeding. According to Jordanian news channel AlMamlaka TV, the Aqaba Port’s Deputy Director said that an “iron rope” had broken while the tank was being loaded onto a ship.
Jordan’s health ministry confirmed that 13 people died at the port, while over 300 were injured, mostly as a result of inhaling the gas. The ministry said that all of the injured would make a full recovery with only a few remaining in hospital as of June 28.
Residents living in the city of Aqaba, which is around 10 miles (16km) north of the port, were told to stay indoors and to close windows. A beach in the south of the city which is a popular tourist destination was evacuated as a precaution.
A few hours after the incident, which happened at 15:15 local time, the government declared the area was safe and that there was no longer any risk to locals.
Several grain silos at the Aqaba Port required inspection and work around them was halted in order for officials to look for any sign of contamination. Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh visited the scene and the injured in hospital, before announcing that he would form an investigation team to look into the incident.