Jordan: Chlorine Gas Cylinder Explodes at Port, Kills at Least 11

Jordan Police Headquarters / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

At least 11 people died and 251 more were injured on Monday after a large cylinder containing “toxic gas” with a “very high chlorine content” exploded at a port in southern Jordan’s Aqaba city, Jordan’s state-run Al Mamlaka TV reported.

Video footage of the incident shared by Jordanian state media showed a 25-ton metal cylinder of chlorine gas fall from a winch mid-transport and crash into the deck of a ship. A large cloud of yellow-colored gas filled the air in the surrounding area as several port staff attempted to run away from the explosion.

The deputy head of the Aqaba’s regional government authority, Hajj Hassan, told Al Mamlaka TV that an iron cable attached to the gas cylinder during its ill-fated transport malfunctioned or broke, causing the cylinder to drop and puncture.

“[T]his gas is considered a heavy gas, and it is not as easy to move the gas cloud as other gases because it is a heavy gas that is concentrated in the region and is affected by the direction of the wind,” the outlet noted.

Aqaba Gov. Muhammad Al-Rafai’ah told Jordanian state TV that the situation at Aqaba Port was “brought under control” on Monday night, though the accident’s aftermath continued to devastate the local population. Specialized teams from the Jordanian Navy and Air Force deployed to Aqaba on Monday to help evacuate local residents to nearby hospitals or out of the direct vicinity of the port.

“The southern beach in the Aqaba governorate was evacuated on Monday,” Al Mamlaka reported.

All of Aqaba’s hospitals were reportedly full of victims from the port explosion on Monday night, forcing officials to set up makeshift field clinics to accommodate an overflow of patients.

Aqaba Health Director Jamal Obeidat told reporters that the condition of the wounded in local hospitals ranged between “medium and critical,” adding that “the number of deaths increases by the minute.”

Jordan Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh arrived at Aqaba on Monday evening to visit people injured by the gas explosion at a local hospital, according to Jordanian state media. Prime Minister Al-Khasawneh told reporters he had formed an investigative team to determine the cause of the incident that will be chaired by Jordan’s Interior Minister.

Aqaba Port is “Jordan’s only container port on the Red Sea” and does regular trade with Israel and Syria, according to Reuters. The chlorine gas tanker that exploded at Aqaba Port on Monday was originally bound for Djibouti in the Horn of Africa before it fell during transit and exploded, according to the news agency.


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