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Toxic gas leak in Jordan kills at least 12 people, injures hundreds

By Jassar Al Tahat, Hadeel Ghaboun, Celine Alkhaldi, Caroline Faraj and Mostafa Salem, CNN

(CNN) – A toxic gas that leaked out of a container in Jordan’s port of Aqaba, killing at least 12 people and injuring 260 others, was chlorine, Jordan’s emergency relief coordinating agency said late Monday.

A video from a nearby CCTV camera released by state-owned al-Mamlaka TV showed the container being transported by a crane before it dropped, unleashing a cloud of yellow, gaseous material onto a ship and inside the port. The video showed people running away after the container dropped.

“At 4:15 p.m. on Monday afternoon, a chlorine gas leak occurred in the port of Aqaba due to the fall and explosion of a tank containing this substance,” said a statement from the National Center for Security and Crisis Management (NCSCM).

A team of hazardous materials specialists from Jordan’s Civil Defense were dispatched to the scene of the incident, a PSD spokesperson said. The area has been quarantined, the Jordan Civil Defense said in a statement.

By Monday evening local time, the toxic leak had been brought “under control” and no longer posed any risk, according to Jordan’s media minister Faisal Shboul, state news agency Petra reported.

Authorities were disinfecting the site and cordoned off the area to prevent further injuries, Shboul added.
Scenes broadcast on Jordan’s state TV showed teams in hazmat suits at the site of the incident.

Eight of those killed were Jordanians, with the remaining victims of different nationalities, according to the government.

Among the injured, 123 are receiving treatment in hospitals. Some 45 of them are personnel from the Public Security Directorate, Civil Defense and Gendarmerie Cadres First Responders, according to the country’s Public Security Directorate.

Nearby hospitals treating the injured reached full capacity, according to Jordanian state TV, citing the head of the Aqaba Health Directorate, Jamal Obeidat.

Obeidat said field hospitals would be deployed and instructed Aqaba residents to close their windows and remain indoors, according to al-Mamlaka TV.

Airplanes were also dispatched to assist with evacuation.

Aqaba is a popular tourist resort, located on the Red Sea. The incident has alarmed many tourists, but Tourism Commissioner Nidal Al Magali said in a statement that the impact of the gas spread had been limited due to slow winds.

CNN’s Wayne Chang and Irene Nasser contributed reporting.

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