Timeline: A look back at recent explosions and fires across Iran

A man inspects a building at the site of an explosion at a medical clinic in the north of the Iranian capital Tehran. (Reuters)

A series of suspicious explosions and fires in Iran’s military and industrial facilities over the past few weeks have raised questions about the cause of these incidents.

A considerable number of mysterious fires have broken out across Iran since May.

Fires have broken out at a wide range of places in the Islamic Republic, from forests and parks, to historical and sacred sites belonging to religious minorities.

Since late June, fires as well as explosions have occurred across the country. Some of these incidents have taken place at and near highly sensitive military and nuclear sites.

It is unclear yet which if any of the reported incidents are linked.

Iranian authorities have downplayed the fires and explosions, ruling the majority of them accidental.

Here is a timeline of the most recent incidents.

July 7: Explosion at factory in southern Tehran

A picture taken on July 7, 2020, shows the site of an explosion at an oxygen factory in town of Baqershahr, south of the capital Tehran. An explosion killed two people before dawn at a factory south of Iran's capital, state media reported, blaming human error for the latest in a string of blasts in the Islamic republic. (Fars News/AFP)

A picture taken on July 7, 2020, shows the site of an explosion at an oxygen factory in town of Baqershahr, south of the capital Tehran. An explosion killed two people before dawn at a factory south of Iran's capital, state media reported, blaming human error for the latest in a string of blasts in the Islamic republic. (Fars News/AFP)

An explosion at a factory south of the capital Tehran at 3:20 a.m. local time on Tuesday left two dead and wounded three others, the official IRNA news agency reported.

The explosion occurred at a factory in Baghershahr town in Tehran’s Kahrizak district.

Kahrizak’s governor Amin Babaei said the incident was caused by the explosion of oxygen capsules, blaming the factory workers for being “careless.”

July 4: Chlorine gas leak and fire at power plant in southwest Iran

A chlorine gas leak at a petrochemical center in southwest Iran sickened 70 workers, IRNA reported on Saturday.

The chlorine gas leak occurred at the Karun petrochemical center in the city of Mahshahr in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, IRNA said.

An emergency services director at the center said that the cause of the “accident” is under investigation.

Earlier the same day, a power plant in the city of Ahwaz, the capital of Khuzestan, caught fire when a transformer exploded, IRNA said.

A video shared on social media showed a cloud of thick black smoke rising into the sky.

The power plant caught fire due to a “transformer explosion,” IRNA reported citing Ebrahim Ghanbari, the head of the Ahwaz municipality’s fire and safety services, as saying.

A spokesman for Iran’s electricity industry later said the incident was a fire and not an explosion.

July 3: Large fire in a garden Shiraz

A large fire broke out in the city of Shiraz, the capital of Fars province, videos circulating on social media on Friday showed.

The fire reportedly occurred in a garden in Shiraz, according to reports citing local sources.

The cause of the fire remains unclear as authorities did not publicly address the incident.

July 2: ‘Incident’ at the Natanz nuclear facility

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI) said Thursday an accident had taken place at a construction site in the Natanz nuclear site in central Iran without causing casualties.

The Natanz uranium-enrichment site, much of which is underground, is one of several Iranian facilities monitored by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.

A building after it was damaged by a fire, at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Iran, July 2, 2020. (AP)

A building after it was damaged by a fire, at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in Iran, July 2, 2020. (AP)

On Friday, Iran said it had determined the cause of the “accident” but declined to release details citing security reasons.

AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on Sunday the accident caused “significant damage” that could slow the development of advanced centrifuges.

Three Iranian officials who spoke to Reuters said they thought cyber sabotage had been involved at Natanz, but offered no evidence. Two said Israel could have been behind it.

Asked whether Israel had anything to do with “mysterious explosions” at Iranian nuclear sites, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on July 5: “Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us.”

Some Iranians on social media expressed concern over the possibility of a radiation leak but authorities have assured citizens the incident did not cause any release of radiation.

In a statement emailed to the BBC’s Persian service, an unknown group claiming to be dissidents within Iran’s security apparatus claimed responsibility on Friday for the incident at the Natanz nuclear site.

BBC Persian said it received the statement from the group “hours” before Iran reported the incident.

June 30: Explosion at a medical clinic in Tehran

An explosion at a medical clinic north of the capital Tehran last Tuesday killed 19 people and injured 14 others.

The Tehran prosecutor’s office said the cause of the accident was the explosion of three oxygen capsules inside the clinic, but a senior police official said the initial investigation pointed at a gas leak.

On Wednesday, police said it had arrested one person and issued arrest warrants for three others in connection with the explosion. The four individuals are the clinic’s managers, police said.

An image grab from footage obtained from the state-run Iran Press news agency on June 30, 2020, shows footage of a powerful explosion at a clinic in northern Tehran. (AFP via Iran Press)

An image grab from footage obtained from the state-run Iran Press news agency on June 30, 2020, shows footage of a powerful explosion at a clinic in northern Tehran. (AFP via Iran Press)

June 25: Power outage in Shiraz

Large parts of Shiraz experienced a power outage late Thursday after a utility pole caught fire.

The internet was also cut off for some time in the affected areas.

The cause of the fire was an increase in power consumption, state media reported.

A short while after, reports of an explosion in the capital Tehran emerged.

June 25: Explosion near military base in Tehran

Iranians on social media shared videos and images of an orange light originating from the ground and lighting up the sky of Tehran late on June 25.

Other Iranians also said they heard a loud explosion.

Hours later, the defense ministry said an explosion took place at a gas storage facility in an area that houses a sensitive military site.

The explosion took place in the “public area” of Parchin, a defense ministry spokesman said.

Parchin is the location of a facility where Iran is suspected of having conducted nuclear weapons-related tests. Some member countries of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had presented the international organization with data that suggests that Iran may have conducted hydrodynamic tests at Parchin in the past to assess how specific materials react under high pressure, such as in a nuclear explosion.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 08 July 2020 KSA 02:25 - GMT 23:25
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