Two Earthquakes Hit Iran ‘Close to Nuclear Power Plant’

January 8, 2020 Updated: January 8, 2020
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Two earthquakes measuring 4.9 and 4.5 in magnitudes hit Iran on Wednesday, Jan. 8, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The first 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck about 6 miles southeast of Borazjan, a city in and the capital of Dashtestan County, Bushehr Province, at around 2:20 a.m. and had a depth of 10 miles.

Strategic Sentinel reports on their Twitter that the earthquake struck close to the Bushehr nuclear plant and that the depth and epicenter indicate it was a natural event. A similar earthquake struck in December last year, they tweeted.

A second 4.5 magnitude quake struck about an hour later on Wednesday morning with its epicenter at 10 plus miles southeast of the same city. It also measured 6 miles in depth, USGS said.

There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The earthquakes come just hours after Iranian officials said late Tuesday that it had conducted missile strikes on Iraqi military bases that hold U.S. troops in retaliation for the death of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s death in Baghdad, according to Iranian state-run media outlets.

Hours after the missiles were fired, a Ukrainian plane carrying at least 170 passengers and crew crashed shortly after taking off from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport.

State television reported that the plane crashed at 6.22 a.m. local time, and four helicopters and 22 ambulances were sent to the crash site but were battling severe fires. The plane went down just a few hours after the earthquakes occurred.

“The plane is on fire, but we have sent crews … and we may be able to save some passengers,” Pirhossein Koulivand, head of Iran’s emergency services, told state television.

Initial reports said that 180 people had been on board. However, this has been revised down to 170.

Flight data from FlightRadar24 shows the Boeing 737 operated by Ukraine International Airlines was headed to Kyiv but stopped transmitting data shortly after take-off.

The earthquakes that happened earlier in the night occurred just hours after Iran conducted missile strikes on Iraqi military bases that hold United States troops in retaliation for Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani’s death in Baghdad, according to Iranian state-run media outlets.

“In Operation Martyr Suleimani in early hours of Wednesday, tens of ground-to-ground missiles were fired at the U.S. base and successfully pounded the al Asad base,” the Revolutionary Guards said via state-run television, according to a translation.

The attack was later confirmed by a Pentagon spokesperson, who said that missiles were fired at two or more Iraqi military bases where American and coalition forces are based.

“It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at Al Asad and Irbil,” Jonathan Hoffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said in a statement.

“We are working on initial battle damage assessments.”

On Tuesday night, Jan. 7, President Donald Trump responded to the attack and said that a damage assessment is now being conducted.

“All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well-equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning,” Trump wrote on Twitter.