Jordanian PM pledges inquiry into deadly blast at Red Sea port that killed 13

Israel has offered to aid Jordan with the aftermath of the deadly incident, which was sparked by toxic chlorine gas; over 250 wounded

Experts investigate a toxic gas explosion in Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)
Experts investigate a toxic gas explosion in Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Raad Adayleh)

Jordan’s prime minister said Tuesday that he has instructed authorities to launch an investigation into the deadly blast the previous day at the Red Sea port of Aqaba that killed at least 13 people.

A crane loading chlorine tanks onto a ship on Monday dropped one of them, causing an explosion of toxic yellow smoke. Along with those killed, some 250 were sickened, authorities said.

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh visited the site Tuesday and, citing civil defense and environmental authorities, said the gas concentration in the area had returned to normal. He said that most movement at the port has resumed, except for the exact site of the incident, which was being cleaned and inspected.

Al-Khasawneh said many of those in hospitals were being discharged.

Israel offered Jordan help in dealing with the toxic blast at the Red Sea port on Monday night, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said.

“As we’ve told our friends in Jordan, the Israeli defense establishment is ready to assist with any effort, by any means necessary,” he said in a statement.

Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh (fourth from left) visits the site of a toxic gas explosion in the Red Sea port of Aqaba on June 28, 2022. (Khalil Mazraawi/AFP)

Gantz offered condolences for the dead and well wishes for the wounded.

A government spokesman, Faisal Al-Shboul, told state media that eight of the dead were Jordanian and five were foreigners. Among the injured were Chinese and Vietnamese nationals, hospital officials said.

Video carried on state TV showed the moment the tank exploded, sending dockworkers scrambling to escape the toxic cloud. Some 200 people were hospitalized.

The Public Security Directorate, which initially described it as a gas leak, said authorities sealed off the area after evacuating the injured and sent specialists in to address the situation.

State-run Jordan TV said 13 people were killed. Al-Mamlaka TV, another official outlet, said 199 were still being treated in hospitals. The Public Security Directorate said a total of 251 people were injured.

Aqaba is on the northern tip of the Red Sea, next to the Israeli city of Eilat, which is just across the border. Both are popular beach and diving destinations.

Eilat’s emergency services said in a statement that there was no impact on the city but that they were following the situation closely.

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