2 Earthquakes Hit Near Iranian Nuclear Power Plant Hours After Missile Strike, Plane Crash
Iran was struck by two earthquakes near a nuclear power plant on Wednesday after a chaotic day that saw the country launch missiles at two U.S. military bases in Iraq before a passenger plane crashed and killed dozens in an unrelated incident.
According to the Washington Post, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake hit the southwestern part of the country around 9 a.m. local time before a 4.5-magnitude aftershock struck a half-hour later. There were no immediate reports of casualties, local news outlets said. A 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit the area less than two weeks ago.
Wednesday’s quakes struck within 12 miles of the city of Borazjan, located near the Bushehr nuclear power plant, CNN reported.
There were no reports of damage at the facility, but seven people were injured, including four who were hospitalized, the Times of Israel said.
Iran has suffered deadly earthquakes in the past, with a 5.9-magnitude earthquake killing 452 in November 2017 and a 6.6 magnitude earthquake that killed 26,000 people in 2003, CNN noted.
The Wednesday morning quakes came just hours after the country launched a ballistic missile assault against two U.S. military bases in Iraq. The attack was in retaliation for a drone airstrike that killed the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani, while he was in Iraq. The airstrike was ordered by President Donald Trump.
Shortly after the strikes began, a Boeing 737 jet carrying 176 people crashed in Iran, killing everyone on board. The cause of the crash remains unclear. The Washington Post reported that Iranian officials said the plane likely crashed due to mechanical difficulties, but the outlet also reported that the Ukrainian embassy in Iran later took down a statement concurring with that assessment and ruling out terrorism.
According to CNN, a tweet from Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said that 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals died in the crash.
In a statement to PEOPLE on Tuesday, Boeing said: “This is a tragic event and our heartfelt thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customers and stand by them in this difficult time. We are ready to assist in any way needed.”