Conspiracy theorists are claiming that a plane crash in Arkansas was a case of sabotage aimed at covering up the train derailment and chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio.
A twin-engine plane, carrying five employees from the Little Rock-based science consulting firm known as the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health (CTEH), crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff near the Clinton National Airport.
Deputies with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, according to the local news organization KARK, confirmed that no survivors were found at the scene. The CTEH employees had planned to fly to John Glenn Columbus International Airport in Ohio.
CTEH, as stated on its website, offers teams of experts to help “companies, governments, and communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from threats to their environment and people.” The company says it has a long history of focusing on “railroads, vessels, refineries, or pipelines; or assisting with natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes.”
Given the profession of the passengers and their planned trip to Ohio, conspiracy theorists immediately latched onto the story to suggest that the aircraft had been sabotaged in an attempt to keep the team from investigating the train derailment. The ongoing disaster in East Palestine has already been deemed by conspiracy theorists as being orchestrated by the federal government.
“BREAKING NOW: Environmental scientists that were heading to East Palestine, Ohio killed on plane crash,” one Twitter user wrote.
Allegations of foul play were also spread across other social media platforms like Reddit and Facebook, where countless users similarly argued that the plane crash was intentional. Breathless headlines were likewise featured on notorious conspiracy-peddling websites such as the Gateway Pundit.
Yet the plane carrying CTEH employees was not headed to East Palestine as many have claimed. A company spokesperson confirmed that the five individuals had been responding to a totally unrelated incident at the Schumann and Company Metals plant in Bedford, Ohio, roughly 70 miles away from East Palestine.
Meanwhile, halting the scientists trip wouldn’t make a difference anyway, as CTEH already has employees on the ground at the site of the train derailment. The company, according to its website, is currently operating at anywhere between 100 and 200 different job sites in Ohio. CTEH also has thousands of other ongoing contracts in nearly every state in the country.
Speaking with the Daily Dot, Lt. John Trent of the Little Rock Police Department stated that he had no knowledge of the rumors attempting to tie the plane crash to East Palestine. An investigation by local and federal authorities as well as the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is ongoing.
“What I do know is the weather during this time was terrible. The wind gusts were over 40mph and raining but we have no idea what caused this accident,” Lt. Trent said. “As a pilot myself, I know the NTSB is very thorough with their investigations and I am confident they will have factual answers to what occurred.”
Like Lt. Trent, multiple meteorologists in the region referenced the hazardous weather when reporting on the accident.
Joel Young, a meteorologist with Fox16 News, noted on Twitter that the crash occurred “around the same time high wind/rain rolled through the Metro.” Pat Walker, a meteorologist with the same station, said that the crash had taken place at around the same time as “a wind gust from a thunderstorm of 46 mph.”
“This crash was likely weather-related,” Walker added.
Even though no evidence whatsoever has been presented to suggest that foul play was involved, the topic has already become lore among conspiracy theorists online.
The allegations come as conspiracy theorists attempt to paint any issues even remotely linked to trains as suspicious, even though more than 1,000 train derailments take place every year.
CTEH did not respond to a request for comment by the Daily Dot by press time.