As Iran Launched Missiles at U.S. Troops, There Was a Mysterious Plane Crash in Iran. Oh, and a Couple of Earthquakes.

One would be forgiven for thinking the End Times are upon us after events in Iran and Iraq on Tuesday night.

  • An Iranian missile attack on a U.S. base in Iraq
  • A deadly plane crash in Iran
  • A pair of earthquakes in Iran

PJM reported Tuesday on an Iranian missile attack on a U.S. airbase in Iraq. The provocative attack by the Iranians was in response to the U.S. killing terrorist-thug Qasem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport late last week. By all accounts, the attack on the U.S. base Tuesday was a complete failure, with no reports of fatalities. That didn't stop Iranian propagandists (read: liars) from claiming victory:

But that's not all.

While all this was going on, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck Borazjan, Iran, less than 50 miles from in the Bushehr nuclear power plant.

India Today:

A natural, 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck Iran near the Bushehr nuclear plant Wednesday, reports said, as tensions in the Middle East soared following Iranian missile strikes on Iraqi bases housing US troops.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the earthquake struck 10 km southeast of Borazjan, Iran -- marked with a gold star on the map below -- and at a depth of 10 km.

The map shows the respective locations of the earthquake's epicentre and the city of Bushehr, near which the nuclear plant is located.

Borazjan is a nearly 70-km drive away from Bushehr.

"The depth and epicenter indicate it was a natural event and unrelated to this evening's [US time] events. A similar earthquake struck in late December," the website Strategic Sentinel tweeted.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake began six miles below the surface, an indication that this was indeed an earthquake and not something more sinister. There were no immediate reports of injuries or nuclear events.

While officials are calling this a "natural" event, a website that tracks earthquakes and volcanos crowdsourced some man-on-the-street "I felt it" reports from the area where the earthquake struck:

Bunker Outside Tehran / MMI V (Moderate shaking) : Maybe not earthquake US Bombing :)

Southern Iran / MMI V (Moderate shaking) : This is either Trump or god telling us we we are evil. Time to remove the mullahs before they have Iran wiped out.

iran / MMI IX (Violent shaking) : ok boomer

iran / MMI VIII (Severe shaking) : energy weapon

Shiraz / MMI V (Moderate shaking) : Saw a bright flashing light, followed by lots of shaking.

(7.3 km SSE from epicenter) [Map/ MMI IX (Violent shaking) : it feel like bomb no earthquake god help us

Borazjan / MMI VIII (Severe shaking) : This was not an earthquake, explosion and shockwave it nightmare

Shiraz / MMI V (Moderate shaking)

Yeah, take most of those reports with a grain of salt.

Probably.

Is it outside the realm of possibility that there was something more going on? Could the U.S. or the Iraqis have taken out a target in the region? Stay tuned.

But that's not all.

A second quake, measuring 4.5 in magnitude, hit Borazjan almost exactly one hour later about 10 miles southeast of the city. Keep in mind that seismic activity is pretty common in the region, including a 5.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the area in December.

But even that's not all.

A Ukranian passenger jet carrying 176 crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran's international airport, killing all on board, officials in Ukraine said. Yahoo:

The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport in the Iranian capital when a fire struck one of its engines, said Qassem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran's Road and Transportation Ministry. The pilot of the aircraft then lost control of the plane, sending it crashing into the ground, Biniaz said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

The plane carried 167 passengers and nine crew members from different nations on its flight to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Biniaz said. The crash killed all on board, Iranian emergency officials and Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said.

Flight data from the airport showed a Ukrainian 737-800 flown by Ukraine International Airlines took off Wednesday morning, then stopped sending data almost immediately afterward, according to website FlightRadar24. The airline did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Note: Officials have not confirmed that this is actual footage of the plane crash.

Update: Early reports out of the Ukranian Embassy in Iran said the crash was likely caused by an engine problem and ruled out terrorism and a rocket attack as possible causes. Now, that explanation has been removed from the Ukranian Embassy website and they are saying the cause of the crash is undetermined at this time. Iran is reportedly refusing to release the critical black box to Boeing for examination.

(Aside: Did we ever get to the bottom of who used Russian surface-to-air missiles to shoot down MH-17 over Ukraine in 2014?)

After the attack on U.S. troops in Iraq, the Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. carriers from flying in the airspace over Iran, Iraq, the Gulf of Oman, and the waters between Iran and Saudia Arabia.

This hat-trick of Big Events in the world's hottest of hotspots Tuesday kept Twitter buzzing late into the night with unsubstantiated speculation and lots of wild conspiracy theories. Of course.

Oh, did I forget to mention there was a stampede? This day keeps getting stranger.

Actually, they are, Matt.

It all does sound a bit strange, doesn't it? But fear not, there's one thing we can be sure of:

And this:

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm hoping for a quiet news day on Wednesday. Or the Rapture.

Follow me on Twitter @pbolyard.