Burning ships in Iran add to string of dozens of explosions and fires
A fire broke out at a shipyard in the port city of Iranian Bushehr on Wednesday afternoon, 15 July 2020 and operations were underway to bring it under control, head of the crisis management organisation for Bushehr Province, Jahangir Dehqani, said. “An extensive fire has engulfed Delvar Kashti Bushehr boat factory,” IRIB said, according to The Times of Israel. The shipyard fire burned through seven ships, sending plumes of black smoke billowing above the city skyline. Local officials said the flames were so extensive that they had to call in additional fire engines from the navy, the Revolutionary Guards Corp and a nearby nuclear plant. The fire was tamed after about five hours. Dehghan said, “The cause of the fire was unclear but that high winds and the fibreglass used in boat construction had contributed to its rapid spread. Fibreglass, however, is not generally flammable.” No casualties were reported from the shipyard fire.
The fire followed dozens of recent fires and explosions across Iran’s forests, factories and military and nuclear facilities in the past three months that have rattled ordinary Iranians. Iranian officials have said that some of the episodes may have been acts of sabotage but blamed weather, accidents and equipment malfunctions for the others.
First responders search for survivors at the scene of an explosion at the Sina At'har health centre in the north of Iran's capital of Tehran on 30 June 2020.
On Tuesday, 14 July 2020, an aluminium factory in the industrial city of Lamard, in Fars Province, caught fire. On Sunday, a fire broke out at petrochemical plant in Khuzestan Province.
An explosion at the country’s top nuclear facility in Natanz on 2 July 2020 damaged the structure where centrifuges were assembled and has been attributed to Israeli sabotage. There have also been explosions at two power plants, a chlorine gas leak at a chemical plant and an explosion at a missile production factory at a military complex in Tehran.
Iranian officials say that some of the explosions at factories and military facilities and some forest fires may have been sabotage but blamed weather and accidents for the others. While government officials have not linked the fires and explosions, they have acknowledged that the number and frequency are unusual.
Aside from military and industrial fires, more than 1 100 forest fires in the past three months have burned more than 150 square miles of woodlands. Parliament called in the ministers of environment and intelligence to question them about the forest fires, at least a fifth of which were believed to been caused by arson.
The July 2 explosion at Natanz was part of a yearlong covert operation by Israel and the United States, American and Middle Eastern intelligence officials have said. Intelligence officials said the blast may have set the Iranian nuclear programme back as much as two years.
The government has said little about the fires and explosions that have damaged a military base in Birjand, the state broadcasting headquarters in Tehran, a port near Bandarlengeh, a steel plant in Ahwaz and a petrochemical plant in Mahshahrtaken, to name a few episodes that took place over just five days last month.
Sources: The New York Times, News Week