Inspectors on behalf of Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry investigating circumstances of Haifa refineries' gas leak which claimed lives of three workers and injured a dozen.
The three victims were all from the same arab village of Yafia,two of them were brothers-in-law.
A preliminary investigation of the event suggests that one of the workers fell ill while working. Three of his friends who came to assist him and were not wearing protective gear inhaled toxic gas.
A day after the gas leak that killed three people and left several others injured, Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer addressed the perils of Haifa Bay where the refineries are located. "I have been warning about the area's danger for years. It's as serious as a nuclear bomb."
Ben-Eliezer expressed hope than in time the site will be evacuated. "If I see that the area continues to pose danger I will have it closed," he stated. The Industry Ministry's inspectors have launched an investigation into the event and will be looking into the possibility of negligence.
Gas leak at Haifa refineries leaves three dead; another victim remains in serious condition
Two victims were identified Tuesday as brothers-in-law George Za'atrah, 31, and Tamer Marjiah, 33, from the village of Yafia near Nazareth.
Samer al-Hajj, 18, an additional employee at the site who was hurt by the gas leak, died on Wednesday. Another worker remains in serious condition.
A preliminary investigation of the event suggests that one of the workers fell ill while working. Three of his friends who came to assist him and were not wearing protective gear inhaled toxic gas. Five other employees and three MDA paramedics were taken to the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa after having been affected by the leak.
Al-Hajj arrived at the hospital suffering from a cardiac arrest as a result of inhaling the gas. He died of his wounds during the course of the night.
Dozens of village residents and relatives from Yafia arrived at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and broke into tears upon being informed of the grim news Tuesday night.
The victims' relatives were infuriated over the circumstances of the incident and demanded an indictment of those responsible for the mishap.
"It can't be that people who go out to make a living and put food on the table return in coffins," one relative said. Another relative said in tears: "These are good people who wanted to provide for their families; we don't know how to cope with the terrible tragedy. If someone was alert maybe it would have been possible to avert their needless death."
The Haifa District director at the Environmental Protection Ministry, Shlomo Katz said that the gas leak was an isolated event and that the substances are not in danger of affecting nearby residents.
Katz explained the circumstances of the accident: "Two workers sealed one of the pipes. One of them fell ill. His friends, who were not protected, came to help him. There are clear procedures in any type of work being performed in this type of factory including working with the proper equipment. It is estimated that during their work there was a leak and they inhaled gas. They were directly affected apparently because they did not follow safety procedures."
The Haifa Bay refineries said that the employees were hurt by the gas leak "for an unclear reason." They stressed there is no fear of a full out gas leak and noted that the site's representatives are currently investigating the incident.
The leak has been repaired quickly and there was no fear of the gas catching fire, the Ministry said Tuesday night. The Ministry's Director General, Dr. Yossi Inbar, told Ynet that there are no longer unusual concentrations of the gas in the air. "In view of the Ministry, the incident is over," he said.
Police and Magen David Adom ambulance service received reports around 8:40 pm Tuesday about a leak at the Haifa refineries, prompting large rescue forces to rush to the scene. Erez Geller, an MDA paramedic, said the first respondents at the site were security guards and employees at the plan, who were later joined by ambulance teams.
MDA Carmel region Spokesman Ofer Yaakov confirmed the reports and said that paramedics initially treated four gravely hurt victims at the site. The wounded were later taken to Haifa hospitals for further treatment.
Immediately following the leak, firefighting teams and paramedics scoured the area in search of more wounded. Meanwhile, police forces were deploying near the plant where the leak took place in order to monitor further developments.
Late Tuesday, regional police officials launched an investigation into the incident in cooperation with environmental officials. Investigators interviewed employees at the site of the leak and are expected to later question the plant's management.
Click to view image: 'Police outside refineries '
Click to view image: 'Site of gas leak Tuesday evening '
Click to view image: 'Haifa refineries and 2 of the victims'
|Liveleak on Facebook|