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Top 10 Conspiracy Theories About Disasters

by Estelle
fact checked by Jamie Frater

Throughout history and into modern times humans have had to contend with and try to survive disasters both natural and man-made. And the aftermath of these disasters doesn’t always only include mop-up operations and memorial services. Often there are ongoing fights against misinformation and more notably, conspiracy theories that inevitably rear their heads.

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10 Nuclear bombs were meant to start Cold War

On 6 August and 9 August 1945, the US dropped two nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. More than 220,000 people died in the bombings, the majority being civilians. On 15 August 1945, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced the country’s surrender in light of the new and ‘most cruel’ bombs’ extremely destructive power. His radio address also signaled the end of World War II.

The bombings rendered the two Japanese cities unrecognizable, and left bodies buried under heaps of rubble, and decaying corpses in rivers. Those who survived the initial bombings, soon began suffering radiation poisoning. They died in horrendous agony, as only 2 of Hiroshima’s 28 hospitals were still standing and many doctors and nurses were killed during the bombings.

In 2005, two nuclear historians decided to scratch at old, but for many still raw, wounds when they came up with a controversial theory that stated the devastating bombings were carried out to start the Cold War and not to end WWII. They went on to say that the US president at the time, Harry Truman, wanted to impress the Soviet Union and as such was guilty of a crime against humanity.[1]

Peter Kuznick and Mark Selden also claimed that another of Truman’s motives was to limit Soviet expansion in Asia. Kuznic was also adamant that Japan surrendered because of a Soviet invasion after the bombing and not the bombs themselves.

9 Israel tried to start a nuclear war by bombing Fukushima

On 11 March 2011, a powerful earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale, devastated Japan’s main island, Honshu, resulting in strong tsunami waves of up to 30 feet high. The tsunami led to major nuclear explosions at the Fukushima power plant along the coast.

Officials initially reported that backup generators at the plant had been damaged. All three reactors at the plant were successfully shut down, but the loss of power caused their cooling systems to fail in the days that followed. By 15 March three explosions had rocked the facility, releasing high levels of radiation.

Residents in the surrounding areas were evacuated and plant workers continued to try and cool the reactors. Radiation levels increased in food and water supplies and the nearby ocean became contaminated by iodine-131.

In 2012, self-proclaimed former National Security Agency analyst, Jim Stone, declared that he believed the entire Fukushima disaster was an act of nuclear war instigated by Israel’s government. His theory, 9000 words long, has it that the Japan earthquake was in fact a nuclear explosion detonated by Israel in an attempt to stop Japan from ‘enriching uranium for Iran.’ He also claimed that Israel was unhappy about rumors that Japan and Iran were working together on nuclear technology and retaliated by hiding a nuclear weapon of their own off the coast of Japan.

He went on to say that more nukes were hidden inside security cameras at Fukushima and when a ‘minor earthquake’ hit Japan on 11 March, Israel detonated the weapon they had hidden in the sea, thereby creating the tsunami waves which led to the Fukushima disaster. Naturally, the hidden nukes in the security cameras served to make the whole thing that much worse.[2]

8 Lusitania sinking was engineered

On 7 May 1915, a German U-boat torpedoed British-owned steamship, Lusitania. The attack killed 1,195 people and events arising from this tragedy eventually led to the US entering WWI.

Lusitania was secretly remodeled for the war but remained a passenger ship. German naval commanders realized by early 2015 that merchant and passenger ships contained weapons that were being transported from America to Europe. Germany proceeded to declare the waters surrounding the British Isles a war zone and eventually broke naval laws when the U-boat torpedoed Lusitania.

Over the years following Lusitania’s sinking, several conspiracy theories saw the light. These included Winston Churchill engineering the disaster to get the US to enter the war and a British cover-up of events.

Some have theorized that Lusitania had her name obscured and was sailed deliberately towards the U-boat. This theory has been used to tie into the Winston Churchill theory as well as the one that says the Cunard company cut ticket prices to ensure a high body count.[3]

7 Ukraine is responsible for MH17 tragedy

Malaysia Airlines was still reeling from the loss of Flight MH370 when disaster struck again on 17 July 2014. Flight MH17, a passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was flying over eastern Ukraine when it was shot down. All 283 passengers, including 80 children and 15 crew, were killed.

The ensuing investigation revealed that the plane was hit by a Russian Buk missile, causing it to crash. It was also found that evidence showed the missile had been fired from a field controlled by Russian-backed separatists. In June 2019, 4 men were charged with the murders of the passengers and crew.

Also in 2019, FvD leader Thierry Baudet stated that he believed Ukraine may have been behind the attack. He questioned the independence of the Joint Investigation Team and reasoned that it was up to the judge to decide who was responsible, instead of political leaders seeking to blame Russia.

Earlier conspiracy theories even claimed that Ukraine shot down the plane, thinking it was Vladimir Putin’s presidential jet, while yet another rumor said that, as is the case with many tragedies, that the Illuminati orchestrated the incident because of their love of the number 7. Therefore, they ensured a Boeing 777 with the number MH17 was shot down in the 7th month of 2014.[4]

6 Boxing Day tsunami was an attempt at fixing the earth’s rotation

On 26 December 2004, the fault between the Burma Plate and the Indian Plate suffered a rupture, resulting in the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake. This undersea earthquake measured a magnitude of 9.1—9.3. Tsunami waves of up to 30 meters resulted from this, leaving more than 227,000 people dead in fourteen countries. Aftershocks from the initial earthquake lasted almost 4 months. The furthest recorded fatality was in Rooi-Els, near Cape Town in South Africa.

A mere eleven days after the disaster, conspiracy theorists had already come up with their own suspicions. They asked questions such as why the
US would deploy a warship if there wasn’t a war to fight, and why the Boxing Day tsunami happened exactly one year after a massive earthquake in Iran in 2003, if there wasn’t any behind-the-scenes manipulation going on.

Other theories included an attempt to correct the rotation of the Earth (because it was apparently wobbly at the time), and the tsunami actually being triggered by a dormant WWII nuclear bomb.[5]

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5 Halifax explosion was a declaration of war

On 6 December 1917, a munitions ship exploded in the Halifax harbor in Nova Scotia, killing almost 2,000 people and injuring around 9,000. The blast destroyed more than 1 square mile of the city of Halifax.

The explosion occurred after Norwegian steamship, Imo, headed out of the harbor and collided with French steamship, Mont-Blanc. The Mont-Blanc was loaded with 2925 metric tons of explosives and blew up after catching fire during the collision. Tsunami waves of 18 meters high followed the blast, destroying more than 1600 buildings and causing the Imo to become stranded on the shore.

News reports at the time predictably expressed doubt about it being an accident and inferred that something more sinister (such as sabotage) had taken place. Conspiracy theories grew as time passed, and rumors of German spies having been involved in the disaster soon reached the public. The explosion was suddenly seen as a declaration of war, leading to Germans being attacked in the streets of Halifax in retaliation.[6]

4 US government engineered a massive tornado

The 2013 Moore tornado was an EF5 monster that released more energy than the Hiroshima Atomic bomb. Meteorologists used real time measurements during the almost 40 minutes the tornado wreaked havoc and estimated that the energy released was up to 600 times more than that of the bomb that wrecked the Japanese city.

The tornado was spawned form a weather system that had produced more tornadoes over the Great Plains over the previous two days. After the twister had touched down northwest of Newcastle and cut a path through Moore, Oklahoma, 24 people were left dead, 212 injured with damages equalling 2 billion.

Soon rumors began making the rounds, fueled by Alex Jones from InfoWars, saying that the American government was behind the ‘weather attacks.’ On his radio show, he claimed that while he wasn’t 100% sure whether a ‘weather weapon’ was to blame for the Moore disaster, he wanted to warn his audience that the government had the ability to ‘create and steer groups of tornadoes.’[7]

3 The Obamas and the Boston Marathon bombings

On 15 April 2013, while the annual Boston Marathon was underway, two homemade bombs went off 14 seconds apart near the finish line of the race. Three people were killed, hundreds were injured, and 17 others lost limbs. It took the FBI only three days to release images of two suspects who they identified shortly afterwards. Brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev ended up in a shootout with police. Tamerlan was shot and died shortly after his brother ran over him with their stolen getaway car. A manhunt was launched for Dzhokhar and he was found hiding in a boat, shot, and wounded by police and then arrested.

Dzhokhar was sentenced to death, but this sentence was overturned in 2020 after a court concluded that he did not receive a fair trial.

Much the same as with other terrorist attacks and also school shootings, there were immediate conspiracy theories that claimed the bombings were nothing but a false flag operation. And that is the tamest of the many theories.

Other rumors have it that the bombings were part of a plan to implement martial law in Boston, that a naked Tamerlan was arrested after he had died and that Michelle Obama visited a mysterious Saudi national in hospital after an investigation against him was dropped. Allegedly the investigation was halted after the Saudi ambassador held a secret meeting with Barack Obama. This could only mean that Barack and Michelle visiting the injured victims in hospital was just a cover to carry out ‘secret sinister’ plans alongside the unnamed Saudi national.[8]

2 Lasers used to start Australian bushfires

Australia’s devastating bushfire-season finally came to an end on 31 March 2020, but not before thousands of homes, around a billion animals and massive areas of wilderness were destroyed. 33 people also lost their lives during the fires that lasted from September 2019 to February 2020. 3000 homes were damaged or destroyed and thousands of people who were forced to evacuate had no choice but to seek shelter on beaches. Australia, during the blazes, recorded the worst air pollution in its capital with an air quality index 23 times higher than what is deemed ‘hazardous.’

This disaster didn’t escape the conspiracy theorists and a very strange theory came to light in January 2020. Many Australians are said to be convinced that lasers and ‘exploding smart meters’ are being used to intentionally start bushfires. The reason behind the arson is believed to be a way to usher in a new train network, the ‘brain-child’ of a global elite group. It is also believed that the ‘weapons’ harness the same power as that of microwaves.[9]

1 Beirut explosion was caused by a nuclear bomb

When an explosion rocked central Beirut on 4 August 2020, its aftermath left 190 people dead, 6500 injured and around 15 billion in damage. It was soon established that the massive blast, which could be heard in Cyprus more than 160 miles away, was the result of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of Beirut.

Not long after, conspiracy theories started flooding the internet. Some are claiming that this was no ordinary explosion, but that an American drone had something to do with it. Others are convinced that the blast was caused by a missile strike, as part of a plot to plunge Lebanon into civil war. Yet another theory has it that Israeli fighter jets caused the disaster. Viral social media posts claimed that a firework factory had exploded instead, while others suggested that a nuclear bomb had been detonated because there was a mushroom-like cloud visible on some footage after the explosion.[10]

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fact checked by Jamie Frater

Estelle is a regular writer for Listverse.