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70 affected by gas leak at Iranian petrochemical complex: Spokesman

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows a view to Karoon Petrochemical Complex, located in the Persian Gulf port of Imam Khomeini inn southern Iran.

More than 70 staff members of an Iranian petrochemical plant have been briefly hospitalized after inhaling chlorine that leaked from a storage tank in the facility.

A spokesman of Karoon Petrochemical Complex, located in the Persian Gulf port of Imam Khomeini, said on Saturday that all but two of those people affected by the gas leak been released from hospital.  

Masoud Shabnalou told the semi-official ILNA news agency that the chlorine leak had started at 4.45 PM local time due to a broken flexible joint related to the storage tank at unit 113 of the plant.

He said, however, that the leak was stopped in less than 30 minutes, adding that a probe was underway to determine the cause of the incident.

Other authorities ruled out the possibility of a sabotage act in the facility, with Omid Shahidinia, the top emergency official in the region, saying chlorine leakage had taken place solely because of technical issues.

Shahidinia said that the high pressure of chlorine had caused people who were present near the unit to inhale the gas.

The leakage came less than an hour after a fire broke out at a power plant in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan province, where Karoon petchem plant in located.

Khuzestan Provincial Governor Gholamreza Shariati also dismissed claims that the fire had been deliberate, saying hot weather had caused a short circuit in the electrical systems of the facility.

Local authorities also denied reports about a similar fire at Tondgooyan Petrochemical Complex in Khuzestan, saying there had been no incident in the plant and it was operating normally.

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