Chlorine gas leak in Iraq’s south injures at least 300

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A chlorine gas leak at a water purification plant in southern Iraq injured at least 300 people, officials said Monday.

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The incident happened Sunday night when the potentially fatal gas leaked from a container in the plant in the district of Qal’at Sukkar north of the southern city of Nasiriyah.

Hundreds of people suffering severe respiratory distress from exposure to the chlorine were taken to a nearby hospital, said Abbas Jaber, Dhi Qar province’s deputy governor.

He said a committee was formed by the governor Monday to investigate the circumstances surrounding the leak. “The negligent (officials) will be held accountable,” he said.

Dhi Qar is among Iraq’s poorest and and historically most underdeveloped provinces. Residents complain of a lack of electricity and access to drinking water. It has been a hotbed of anti-government protest and many youths from the province participated in the mass 2019 protest movement, the largest in Iraq’s modern history.

Public safety hazards have struck the beleaguered city before. Last year, over 90 people, patients and health care workers were killed when a fire broke out in Nasiriyah’s al-Hussein Teaching Hospital. Officials blamed lack of safety measures and negligence.

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