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Jordan Dismisses Officials in Wake of Aqaba Port Incident

Jordan Dismisses Officials in Wake of Aqaba Port Incident

Monday, 4 July, 2022 - 08:30
This image grab taken from a CCTV footage broadcasted by Jordan's Al-Mamlaka TV on June 27, 2022 shows the moment of a toxic gas explosion in Jordan's Aqaba port.(Al-Mamlaka TV / AFP)

Jordan on Sunday dismissed senior officials at the country's main Red Sea port of Aqaba after finding gross negligence was behind the deaths of 13 people following a chlorine gas leak at a major berth.

The cabinet took the decision to fire the director general of state-owned Aqaba Company for Ports Operation and Management and other port officials after an investigation showed “great deficiency and negligence in safety protocols for dealing with hazardous materials in the Aqaba port,” Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh said during a cabinet meeting.

At a press conference on Sunday, Interior Minister Mazin al-Farrayeh said the results of the investigation, which began shortly after the incident and includes the testimony of more than 120 people, would be handed over to the public prosecutor.

“The necessary measures for general safety in handling such dangerous hazardous materials were not taken,” Farrayeh said, adding he expected those responsible to be put on trial.

The deaths and injury of over 300 workers came after a crane loading chlorine containers onto a ship last Monday dropped one onto the quay, causing it to explode.

The gas canister's weight far exceeded the maximum load of the crane cable bearing it, said Farrayeh, who headed the investigation.

“The container weighed about 28,900 tons, which is over three times more than the capacity of the cable of 8.6 tons, causing it to break,” he told a news conference.

A total of “18 containers of chlorine gas were supposed to be loaded onto the ship,” he said.

“During the loading of the fifth, the cable broke and the container fell, leading to the gas leak,” he added.

Farrayeh blamed the incident on “recklessness and negligence” at several levels, saying the port company had failed to show leadership.

Minister of State for Media Affairs Faisal al-Shboul, for his part, said there are only eight people who are still receiving treatment in hospitals following the incident.

He affirmed that the response of the state institutions was “immediate and professional.”

“The health system in Aqaba proved to be highly efficient in handling the effects of the tragic accident,” Shboul noted, adding that the government field hospital received 45% of the cases.

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