A crane loading chlorine tanks onto a ship in Jordan’s port of Aqaba – for access to the Red Sea – dropped one, causing a rupture and release that produced a toxic cloud of yellow smoke. At least 13 people have died and more than 250 others suffered injuries or illness.
Jordan’s Public Security Directorate has reported that specialized response teams deployed to the scene – to contain the leak and initiate clean-up, damage repair, and recovery actions. Officials did not identify the contents of the storage tank.
– Authorities initially rushed medical supplies to the port, provided emergency care, and then evacuated the injured to hospitals.
– The affected area has since been sealed off – to minimize risk of further casualties and other harmful impacts.
– In a public statement, Colonel Amer Al-Sartawi, a spokesperson for the Directorate,
explained, “Specialists and hazardous materials teams in the Civil Defense Authority are currently dealing with the gas leak.”
The video, accessed via the link here, depicts the incident. A crane moved the storage tank, which is white with some form of gray casing, toward the ship from the dock, where it had been removed from a flat-bed truck. As this movement to load for maritime transport progresses, the tank breaks loose from the crane and crashes onto the deck of the ship. The resulting rupture triggers the leak, immediately producing an expansive yellow cloud.
Coverage by Jordan’s state-run broadcaster, Al Mamlaka TV, has reported that 199 people continue to receive treatment in hospitals. In an update, the governor of Aqaba has stated publicly that civil defense teams have contained the effects of the chlorine tank rupture and leak. Aqaba is on the northeastern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, one of two gulfs created by the bifurcation of the northern portion of the Red Sea created by the Sinai Peninsula. The Israeli city of Eilat is to the west and northwest, just across the border between the two countries. Both cities are popular beach and diving destinations.
Emergency services in Eilat issued a statement noting there have been no adverse impacts on the city – specifically, no reports of injuries, illness, or contamination. Israeli authorities continue to monitor the situation closely. Local health officials for Aqaba have urged people working in the vicinity of the port to stay indoors and close windows and doors. The nearest residential area is about 15 miles (25 kilometers) away.