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Explosion rocks Iranian power plant; latest in wave of unexplained fires

Isfahan Refinery in front of Isfahan Thermal Power Station, Iran. (gire_3pich2005, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
July 20, 2020

A power plant in Iran’s central Isfahan province was rocked by an explosion on Sunday, making it the latest in a series of unexplained explosions and fires at Iranian facilities in recent weeks.

An official at the Islamabad thermal power plant said the explosion was caused by faulty equipment, Middle East Eye reported. The cause of the explosion was not clear, though the managing director for Isfahan’s electrical company told Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that the explosion was brought on by a “worn-out transformer.”

“Explosion hits Iran power plant in Isfahan on Sunday. ‘A worn-out transformer… at Isfahan’s Islamabad thermal power plant exploded at around 5am today,’ the managing director of Isfahan’s electrical company told IRNA news agency,” a Twitter user tweeted with a video purporting to show a smoke plume from the explosion.

No injuries were reported in the blast.

The power plant official said the facility returned to normal production after two hours, and said the plant’s power supply had not been interrupted.

The Isfahan power company director’s comments appear to suggest the latest explosion incident was an accident, though few details are available about the explosion other than that it began with a worn-out transformer.

The explosion does come amid a series of unexplained fires and explosions at key military and industrial facilities around Iran.

On June 26, there was an explosion at a gas storage facility near Iran’s military base in Parchin. Days later on July 2, a fire was reported at the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran.

Another gas explosion damaged a residential building in the Iranian capital of Tehran on July 11 and on July 13, another explosion occurred at an Iranian chemical plant. On July 15, at least seven ships were damaged in a fire in the Iranian port province of Bushehr.

The series of fires and explosions across Iran have raised allegations of a sabotage effort by Israel or the U.S. against Iran. Following the fire incident at the Natan nuclear facility, Iran’s top security body said it had determined the cause of the fire, but would not provide details, citing “security reasons.”

“The reason why authorities are not ready to point their fingers at Israel is that they would then be forced to react — at least at the same level, which would be very difficult, and it would result in Israeli retaliation,” Hossein Alizadeh, a former Iranian diplomat, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in an interview following the Natanz incident.