Ships burn as fire hits Iranian port near nuclear power station
The Tehran Fire Department quickly jumped in to say the explosion – which caused power outages – occurred in two-storey house’s basement which contained around 30 gas cylinders, reports.
• Dramatic video purporting to show the blaze shows thick black smoke billowing
• Men desperately tried to put out the flames in footage at the port of Bushehr
•Incident is unfolding 12 miles away from Iran’s only nuclear power station
• Plant was developed by Russia and Iran as part of a joint nuclear cooperation
A massive blaze has broken out at an Iranian port, ripping through at least seven ships – the latest in a string of mysterious fires and explosions to hit the country.
Dramatic video purporting to show the blaze shows thick black smoke billowing from the scene at the port of Bushehr – as men desperately try to put out the flames.
The incident is unfolding just 12 miles away from Iran’s only nuclear power station and comes just days after a mysterious blast caused significant damage at a uranium facility in another part of the country.
It is not clear how the ships caught ablaze and no injuries have been reported.
Some reports have suggested that the fire broke out at a shipyard where fibreglass hulls for boats are built.
The fire is the latest in a series of blazes and explosions across Iran – many of which authorities have brushed off as unfortunate accidents
An oil tanker sought by the US over allegedly circumventing sanctions on Iran was hijacked on July 5 off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a seafarers organization said Wednesday.
Satellite photos showed the vessel in Iranian waters on Tuesday and two of its sailors remained in the Iranian capital.
It wasn’t immediately clear what happened aboard the Dominica-flagged MT Gulf Sky, though its reported hijacking comes after months of tensions between Iran and the US
TankerTrackers.com, a website tracking the oil trade at sea, said it saw the vessel in satellite photos on Tuesday in Iranian waters off Hormuz Island.
Hormuz Island, near the port city of Bandar Abbas, is some 190 kilometers (120 miles) north of Khorfakkan, a city on the eastern coast of the United Arab Emirates where the vessel had been for months.
In May, the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against two Iranians, accusing them of trying to launder some $12 million to purchase the tanker, then named the MT Nautica, through a series of front companies.
The vessel then took on Iranian oil from Kharg Island to sell abroad, the US government said.
Court documents allege the scheme involved the Quds Force of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which is its elite expeditionary unit, as well as Iran’s national oil and tanker companies. The two men charged, one of whom also has an Iraqi passport, remain at large.
‘Because a U.S. bank froze the funds related to the sale of the vessel, the seller never received payment,’ the Justice Department said. ‘As a result, the seller instituted a civil action in the UAE to recover the vessel.’
That civil action was believed to still be pending, raising questions of how the tanker sailed away from the Emirates after being seized by authorities there.
The fire comes amid a string of explosions across Iran – many of which authorities have brushed off as unfortunate accidents.
Experts fear Israel and the US could be behind the attacks and have questioned whether Iranian cyber security breaches could be to blame.
Policy Director of United Against Nuclear Iran Jason Brodsky told Fox News: ‘There is evidence of a concerted campaign underway to thwart Iran’s nuclear program.’
Cyber-intelligence expert and CEO of TrustedSec David Kennedy added: ‘Although many are asking the question, was this a cyber-attack or physical sabotage, the answer could be “both.”
‘The most likely suspects are the US and Israel working in tandem.’
It follows an embarrassing blunder last week in which Iranian media quoted a former mayor who dismissed a blast on Friday as ‘explosion at a factory making gas cylinders’.
But other media outlets quickly discovered the mayor in question had been dead for over a year.
Other reports said the explosion actually occurred at a missile and chemical warehouse and the blast injured 11.
The series of bizarre explosions started on June 26, when a factory making cruise missiles and another producing ammunition were hit in Khojir, Tehran, local media reported.
This was then followed by a gas leak at a medical clinic which caused an explosion killing 19 and injuring six on June 30.
Tehran Deputy Governor Hamid Reza Goudarzi told state television that blast was triggered by a gas leak. The fire department said gas canisters caught fire in the clinic’s basement.
Then on July 2, a fire and an explosion occurred at Natanz uranium enrichment plant which develops centrifuges. These are needed to make uranium – and other nuclear weapons.
Power outages then occurred when a fire broke out at a power plant in Shiraz
A fire then broke out on July 4 at the Zergan power plant in the city of Ahvaz in southwestern Iran.
The blaze caused a transformer in the station to explode and ignite the plant – which in turn caused partial electricity outages before it was put out.
Another fire was reported on Sunday at a facility belonging to the Shahid Tondgooyan Petrochemical Company in southwest Iran – but was quickly contained.