AMMAN: The Jordanian government on Sunday blamed a lack of safety measures for the deadly gas leak in Aqaba last week.
A total of 13 people were killed, and 250 others were hospitalized when a chlorine tank exploded after a crane dropped it at the Red Sea port of Aqaba, releasing a large plume of toxic yellow smoke.
The accident happened when a tank filled with 25 tons of chlorine gas being exported to Djibouti fell while being transported.
Announcing the results of the investigation into the gas leak tragedy, Jordanian Interior Minister Mazen Al-Faraya said that the reason behind the accident was the incompatibility of the metal wire that carried the gas tank with its weight.
During a press conference on Sunday, Al-Faraya said that the weight of the tank was “three times more than the cable load capacity.”
Al-Faraya also said that the required safety procedures in dealing with such hazardous material were not in place while loading the gas tank on the truck.
The minister said that the safety attendant was not present on the ship to check the loading and unloading protocols and procedures.
Al-Faraya said that the report into the Aqaba gas leak would be referred to the prosecutor-general for further investigation.
Faisal Shboul, minister of state for media affairs, said that the state institutions’ response to the incident was “professional and immediate,” which resulted in the gas leak being contained and the situation being brought under control.
He also commended the “high efficiency” of the health care system in Aqaba, saying that only eight injured in the accident were currently receiving treatment.
Prime Minister Bishr Al-Khasawneh said that, as per the recommendations of the investigation team, the Cabinet had approved the termination of the services of the directors of the Jordan Maritime Commission and the Aqaba Company for Port Operation and Management and other officials.
Chairing a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Khasawneh also blamed the absence of the required safety measures for the gas leak.
In a statement to Arab News, the premier said that the “government’s professional and rapid response to the incident has greatly helped mitigate the disaster and its consequences on the port city and its residents.”
He said that the government had implemented the king’s directives to embark on a comprehensive investigation into the incident.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II has called for those responsible for the deadly gas leak to be held accountable.
Chairing a meeting last Tuesday at the National Center for Security and Crisis Management, the king “stressed the need to provide transparent explanations to the public after investigations conclude, as well as identifying shortcomings and holding those responsible to account by law.”
Following the gas leak tragedy, employees at the port of Aqaba have been staging a sit-in, demanding better safety measures at their work sites and better living conditions.