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At least 13 killed as gas tank accidentally dropped at port in Jordan

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This photo, taken from CCTV video broadcasted by Al-Mamlaka TV, shows the chlorine gas explosion in the port of Aqaba, Jordan. Photo: Al-Mamlaka TV via AP

This photo, taken from CCTV video broadcasted by Al-Mamlaka TV, shows the chlorine gas explosion in the port of Aqaba, Jordan. Photo: Al-Mamlaka TV via AP

This photo, taken from CCTV video broadcasted by Al-Mamlaka TV, shows the chlorine gas explosion in the port of Aqaba, Jordan. Photo: Al-Mamlaka TV via AP

At least 13 people were killed and 200 hospitalised when a crane loading gas tanks onto a ship in Jordan dropped one of them, sending plumes of toxic yellow smoke into the air.

A video posted by state media showed the storage tank slipping from a hoist as it was lowered toward the deck of a ship at the port of Aqaba and exploding, engulfing the area in toxic clouds.

Dock workers were pictured fleeing the area on foot.  

According to authorities, the tank contained chlorine, a poisonous gas that can be pressurised and cooled to change it into a liquid so it can be shipped and stored.

Chlorine is widely used in household products such as bleach, for waste sanitation, and in drinking water and pool water to kill bacteria.

If the gas is inhaled or comes into contact with skin or eyes, however, it can cause burning pain, difficulty breathing and fluid in the lungs.  

Aqaba port is Jordan’s only seaport. The closest residential area is 15 miles away, and Nidal Majali, the local commissioner for tourism and environment, told state media the effects of the gas leak were limited and there was no risk to public health.

City health authorities advised residents to close their windows and stay in their homes, according to state TV reports.

 Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh visited a hospital treating the injured, praising rescue workers for their speedy response to the incident, which he said reduced the severity of the injuries. 

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