Jordan’s PM promises inquiry into deadly blast at Red Sea port

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Jordan Red Sea Port

Jordan’s prime minister said 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 left ill as a result of the incident, authorities said.

Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh visited the site Tuesday and, citing civil defence 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.

Mr al-Khasawneh said “other nationalities” were among the dead, without elaborating. He said many of those in hospitals are being discharged.

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

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 are 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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