Two people died on Tuesday evening, a third person died on Wednesday morning, and five were hurt in an accident at an oil refinery in the city of Haifa, rescue services reported.
Five workers were in critical condition, two later died in hospital, and a third died early on Wednesday morning due to a toxic leak at a Haifa oil refinery, Israeli rescue service said. Seven others were reportedly ill after inhaling poisonous gas.
The victims were identified as George Zaatrah, aged 31, Tamer Marjiah, 33, and Tamer al-Haj, 18, from Yafia village, near Nazareth.
All victims were found unconscious after inhaling toxic fumes that leaked as they were carrying out a repair, paramedic Eli Geller told Israeli daily, Haaretz. Seven other refinery workers were in stable conditions; two paramedics also received treatment.
The Israeli police in Haifa said there was the leak is not serious and does not pose a threat to the residents or to the environment in the area, Israeli public radio quoted an official stating.
An initial investigation indicated a technical malfunction in the gas system at the refinery, which caused deadly Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) to escape into an area where the men were performing repairs.
Haifa district manager at the Ministry of Environment, Shlomo Katz, declared that the incident was a work accident due to negligence.
He stated: ‘It is clear that this was a specific event that couldn’t have been caused by anything other than negligence…They did not act according to protocols. If they would have worked as they were supposed to, this never would have happened.’
Katz added that the toxic gases that injured the employees were a mixture of toxic materials, including Hydrogen sulfide, a flammable gas used in the oil refining process.
The oil refinery in Haifa has been a major concern for environmentalists and local residents because of the potential for widespread damage and casualties in the event of an accident.