Earthquake hits near Iran nuclear plant, injuring 7

Earthquake hits near Iran nuclear plant, injuring 7

No reports of damage to Bushehr facility following 4.5 magnitude quake in area, the second temblor in 2 weeks

An Iranian flag flutters at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant on November 10, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)
An Iranian flag flutters at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant on November 10, 2019. (Atta Kenare/AFP)

TEHRAN, Iran — A magnitude 4.5 earthquake on Wednesday rattled an area less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant near the country’s Gulf coast, a US monitor said.

The quake, which had a depth of 10 kilometers, struck 17 kilometers south-southeast of Borazjan city at 6:49 a.m. local time, the US Geological Survey said on its website.

State news agency IRNA said the earthquake was felt in Bushehr.

There were no reports of any damage to the nuclear facility.

But seven people were injured, including four who were hospitalized, IRNA reported, citing the head of Bushehr’s crisis management center, Jahangir Dehghani.

“The crisis management team is in the region and assessing the damage” to buildings, he said in the report published hours after the earthquake struck.

The latest quake comes exactly a fortnight after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake hit the same area, without causing any casualties or major damage.

Illustrative: Buildings damaged by the 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck two days before in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab in Iran’s western Kermanshah province, November 14, 2017. (AFP Photo/Atta Kenare/File)

The Bushehr plant, which produces 1,000 megawatts of power, was completed by Russia after years of delay and officially handed over in September 2013.

In 2016, Russian and Iranian firms began building two additional 1,000-megawatt reactors at Bushehr. Their construction was expected to take 10 years.

Iran’s Gulf Arab neighbors have often raised concerns about the reliability of the Bushehr facility and the risk of radioactive leaks in case of a major earthquake.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside of Bushehr, Iran, January 13, 2015. (Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno/AP)

The Islamic Republic is seeking to reduce its reliance on oil and gas with 20 nuclear power plants planned over the coming years.

Its nuclear program is at the center of a dispute with the United States, which suspects Iran is trying to obtain a weapons capability, something Tehran vehemently denies.

US-Iran tensions have risen sharply since May 2018 when US President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 accord that gave Tehran relief from sanctions in exchange for limits on the program.

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