Two Ashdod refinery workers were killed Saturday morning after they were exposed to a lethal dose of highly toxic gas.
The victims, aged 25 and 45, had worked the Friday night shift and had gone missing. They were found lying on the ground Saturday morning. Magen David Adom paramedics rushed to the industrial center and tried to resuscitate the victims for 30 minutes, but pronounced them dead on the spot.
Police launched an investigation into the cause of the workers’ deaths, and the factory’s management also said it was looking into the incident.
Firefighters and police blamed the factory’s management for not allowing them to enter for “a long time” after they showed up, Israel Radio reported. They contended that the firefighter units only gained access to the building after the head of the Ashdod police intervened.
For its part, the factory’s management said it allowed only the MDA teams to enter, and not the firefighters or police, because it wanted to make sure the hazardous material was not a threat. The factory claimed it was cooperating with inspections by the police and the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor.
The firefighters responded that the factory’s management was making up excuses, because in such a case, it should be the special firefighting units that are experts in handling hazardous materials that be allowed to enter and diffuse the situation, Israel Radio added.
Police suspected the cause of their deaths was a work accident, not criminal activity. The employees may have inhaled the poisonous gas after trying to fix a leak. Yigal Zohar, head of the Ashkelon firefighters who also arrived at the scene, said the victims may have been unprotected when they were exposed to the hazardous material for a minute or two.
The victims were to be laid to rest Saturday evening or Sunday.
Another work accident — in which six people were injured and three were arrested for negligence – took place in Ra’anana’s industrial zone last year. In that accident, an explosion and then a series of smaller blasts occurred in the city’s main industrial thoroughfare. Hazardous materials were also located on the premises.