The odd timing of that Ukrainian airline crash and earthquake

We’re going to be digging through the details of last night’s Iranian missile strike against US installations in Iraq for a while. (More on that in a moment.) But at nearly the same time that all of the shelling and yelling was going down, so was… a plane. A Ukranian owned Boeing 737 was taking off from the airport in Tehran, but it almost immediately crashed, killing all 176 people on board. (NBC News)

A Ukrainian airplane carrying 176 people on board crashed after takeoff in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on Wednesday, killing all on board, according to Iranian state television and Ukrainian officials.

Iranian State TV reported that the crash was suspected to have been caused by mechanical issues, without elaborating. Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, said it was too early to determine the cause.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that he had received reports of the crash that indicated all passengers and crew died in the crash.

Officials from Ukraine, Iran and even Iraq were quick to indicate that the crash was most likely caused by mechanical failure and not as a result of any sort of attack related to what was going on in Iraq. And if that tragedy wasn’t enough of a coincidence to catch your attention, a 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck Iran near the Bushehr nuclear plant within hours of the rest of these events.

Before you ask, no… nobody is suggesting that people can intentionally trigger earthquakes as a weapon of war. At least not yet, anyway. It’s just a shocking set of coincidences.

One reason I wouldn’t ponder any conspiracies about the plane crash is the list of passengers on board. NBC News got hold of the manifest and reports that 82 of the passengers were Iranian, 63 were from Canada, 11 were Ukrainian (mostly the crew), 10 were from Sweden, four were from Afghanistan, three were from Germany and three hailed from the United Kingdom. In other words, if someone was intentionally targeting the plane they were mostly going after Iranians and Canadians.

We can keep monitoring the details as the investigation proceeds, but at least for now it just looks like a tragic accident that happened at a curious time. The real question is what happens next in the showdown between the United States and Iran.

The President is scheduled to make an announcement later this morning, but I wouldn’t expect any specific details as to what if any “retaliation for the retaliation” might be on the way. But does Trump even feel a need to hit them again? At least as of now, there are no reported casualties from Iran’s missile strike. In fact, none of the missiles hit the areas where American troops would be found. They mostly hit areas occupied by Iraqi forces and several of them missed their targets entirely.

Does this mean that the Iranians are just poor marksmen and those types of ballistic missiles aren’t all that accurate? (They allegedly aren’t.) Or, as at least one analyst on CNN was speculating this morning, did Iran intentionally miss the targets so as to avoid casualties, giving Trump an opening to not hit them back? There are reports saying that the White House is leaning toward that theory, even if it really sounds like we’re venturing into Tom Clancy territory with that kind of speculation.

We’ll circle back and revisit these questions after the President speaks this morning. In the meantime, we can at least be grateful that we don’t have any coffins to ship back home.