On a day of portentous happenings, Iran was struck with a magnitude 4.9 earthquake near a strategic nuclear plant on Wednesday. The tremor was reported hours after Iran attacked two US bases in Iraq and a Ukrainian passenger plane crashed near Tehran, killing nearly 180 passengers.
The earthquake struck an area within 50 kilometres from Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, US Geological Survey (USGS) said. The epicentre of the quake was 10 kilometres underground, 17 kilometres south-southeast of Borazjan city, USGS added. The tremor happened at 6.49am local time.
Bushehr, which produces 1,000 megawatts of power, is Iran's only nuclear power plant. Ally Russia built the plant for Iran in 2013. There have been no reports of death or damage after the quake hit the region, state news agency IRNA confirmed. The same region was struck by a magnitude 5.1 earthquake some two weeks ago.
Ukrainian plane goes down killing 176 people
Earlier on the fateful day, an ill-fated Ukrainian International Airlines aircraft crashed within minutes after take-off from Iran's Imam Khomeini Airport, in Tehran, killing all 176 passengers on board. The plane was headed to Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, burst into flames mid-air within three minutes after taking off from the Iranian airport. The Ukraine bound aeroplane with 176 members on board including passengers and crew members, reportedly developed a technical snag.
Midnight missile attack on US bases
The day had broken with the news that Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two United States military bases in Iraq. The US Department of Defence confirmed that at least two airbases hosting US troops in Iraq were attacked with more than a dozen ballistic missiles. The Pentagon said Irbil and Al Asad the military bases came under Iranian attack.
Iran's elite IRGC said the attack also served as a warning to American allies in the region. "We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted," the IRGC said in a statement, state-run IRNA reported.