Chlorine container explodes at Jordanian port, many dead

At least 13 people died and more than 250 were injured after a container of chlorine gas fell from a crane cable onto the deck of cargo ship Forest 6 (IMO 9947354). The container exploded, spreading a cloud of chlorine gas over a considerable distance.

The container, carrying 25 tonnes of chlorine, was being loaded onto the Forest 6 at Aqaba Port in the far south-west of Jordan. City health authorities advised residents to close their windows and stay in their homes. The potentially fatal toxic gas spread rapidly. CCTV of the incident shows people fleeing the rapidly spreading yellow plume of gas.

Aqaba’s nearby south beach, which is popular with tourists, was evacuated after the incident, as were adjacent residential areas. Residents were later told they could return to their homes.

Aqaba tourist department official Nidal al-Majali said that a lack of wind on Monday helped prevent the gas cloud spreading outside the port.

Video of the incident confirms the statement made by deputy chief of the Aqaba Region Ports Authority, Haj Hassan, that a “cable carrying a container containing a toxic substance broke, resulting in the fall and escape of the poisonous substance”.

Dr Rouba Aaamawi of the Islamic Hospital in Aqaba said that “all of the injured are suffering from similar symptoms, shortness of breath, a heavy cough and vertigo”. The hospital was treating 70 people, some on respirators.

The port began returning to normal on Tuesday; all the docks except for Dock Four, where further safety checks were to be carried out, were due to reopen, according to Jordanian Interior Minister General Mazen al-Faraya.

2022-built, Hong Kong-flagged, 8,425 gt Forest 6 is owned and managed by HK Peace Shipping Co Ltd of Hong Kong, China. ISM manager is Seacon Ships Management Co HKG of Shandong, China. It is entered with London Club on behalf of HongKong Daliang Marine Ltd. As of June 27th it was moored at Aqaba, Jordan, having arrived from Djibouti that day.