Deadly Gas Cloud Caught On Tape Engulfing Ship In Jordan

Fatalities continue to mount after a large tank of chlorine was dropped while being craned onto a ship in the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

byOliver ParkenJun 27, 2022 6:40 PM
Deadly Gas Cloud Caught On Tape Engulfing Ship In Jordan
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Video footage circulating on social media shows the moment at which a containerized gas canister fell as it was being loaded onto a ship in Jordan's port of Aqaba earlier today. Jordanian authorities said at least 12 people were killed, and well over 200 injured, after the gas inside, reportedly chlorine or a chlorine-heavy mixture, leaked out.

The clip of the incident itself, which is seen below, shows a crane on the pier lifting a tank aboard the Hong Kong-flagged multi-purpose cargo vessel MV Forest 6, when the line appears to snap. A yellow gas quickly engulfs much of the ship's deck and portions of the pier, sending nearby dock workers to flee for their lives. Other videos, as well as pictures, subsequently emerged showing the aftermath. An investigation is already underway into exactly what happened.

The exact contents of the canister are not entirely clear. The Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom reported that it had 25 tonnes of chlorine gas inside. However, Deputy Chief of the Aqaba Region Ports Authority, Haj Hassan, only told Jordan's public broadcaster that the tank had a "toxic substance" inside. Mohammed al-Mubaidin, a former head of the company that operates the Port of Aqaba, told that outlet the ship was there to take on a load of 20 containers "containing a very high percentage of chlorine." Chlorine has a wide variety of industrial and household uses, particularly as a cleaning agent. When inhaled, it has the potential to inflict "acute damage to the upper and lower respiratory tract," according to the National Center for Biotechnological Medicine. The severity of chlorine poisoning is directly related to the amount ingested. Ingesting large amounts can lead to burning pain, blurred vision, breathing difficulties, and in severe cases, death.

The spokesman for the General Security Directorate, Amer Al Sartawi, also said: “a tanker filled with a toxic gaseous substance fell during transport, which led to a gas leakage at the site."

Amal Obeidat, head of Aqaba's Health Department, advised citizens in the area to “stay indoors and close the windows,” in an address on state television. “This gas is critical.” Images of the perforated gas tank have also begun to circulate on social media.

Jordan’s Prime Minister, Bisher Al-Khasawneh, and the Minister of Interior, Mazin Abdellah Hilal Al Farrayeh, traveled directly to Aqaba to assess the situation. Footage posted by Jordan’s state television on Twitter shows Al-Khasawneh speaking with officials and medical staff at Aqaba’s Prince Hashem Military Hospital following the incident. 

Jordan's National Center for Security & Crises Management confirmed that eight of those who lost their lives as a result of the leak were from Jordan, while four were foreign nationals. At the time of writing, the number of injured in the incident has risen to 260.

Jordan's Minister for Information told Sky News Arabia that winds blowing in the opposite direction of the port helped prevent the spread of the gas to the population areas of Aqaba. Former Deputy Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Aqaba Authority, Sharhabeel Madi, told state television in Jordan that he expects the Aqaba port to be reopened in less than 48 hours. It remains unclear exactly how long the port will be closed given the size and nature of the gas leak.  

We will update this post as more information becomes available.

Contact the author: oliver@thewarzone.com

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