At least 13 people were killed in a rare incident at the Red Sea port of Aqaba in Jordan on Monday, after a chlorine tank fell and exploded.
A crane loading a ship with tanks of liquified gas, containing a high percentage of chlorine, dropped one, causing an explosion of toxic gas that filled the air with a cloud of yellow smoke.
More than 250 people were sickened from the gas, according to local authorities.
Jordan’s Ministry of Health opened a field hospital at the port to attend to the injured, and Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh, visited the site on Tuesday.
Al-Khasawneh reported that many of those in hospitals were being discharged and that civil-defense and environmental authorities had assured that the gas concentration in the area had returned to normal.
The prime minister added that operations at the port have resumed, except for the exact location of the blast, which is still being inspected.
While the vessel was in the process of loading almost 20 containers of the liquified gas, local authorities were waiting for the gas to dissolve before investigating what exactly transpired at the port.
A video posted on the state television’s social media platform showed the moment in which the gas tank disconnected from the crane, slamming into the deck of a ship.
Meanwhile, neighboring Israel sent condolences and offered Jordan assistance.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz commiserated with the Jordanian kingdom, stating that Israel’s “defense establishment is ready to assist by any means necessary, as we have passed on to our Jordanian friends. Our hearts and thoughts are with the dead and our prayers for the healing of the wounded.”
Some in Israel were concerned that the toxic gas would reach its borders. However, according to the former head of the company that operates the port, Mohammed al-Mubaidin, the gas is heavy and not likely to spread.
“It is not easy for its gas clouds to move … as it concentrates in one area and is affected by wind movement,” al-Mubaidin said.
Egypt and the Palestinian Authority have also offered their condolences to the kingdom.