December 5, 2022

Sydney — An Australian aviation corporate says it has won greater than 100 threats following an internet conspiracy principle that its pilots unleashed a flooding catastrophe by way of cloud seeding. Conspiracy theorists unfold the false claims on social media after weeks of torrential rains resulted in fatal east coast floods during the last two months, engulfing houses and sweeping automobiles from the roads.

Posts shared on-line alleged aerial survey pilots from Handel Aviation led to a 2d deluge within the flood-ravaged New South Wales the town of Lismore on March 31 by way of cloud seeding — dispersing a substance into the clouds to urged rain.

Australia hit by floods for second time in weeks
A automobile is observed submerged in floodwater following heavy rains within the northern the town of Lismore, New South Wales, Australia, March 30, 2022 in a picture taken from video.

Seven Community/Handout/REUTERS

“A pilot from Handel Aviation in Cessna 210N Centurion VH-JIL did a breakfast time cloud seeding run over Lismore South & Ballina these days whilst sightseeing the huge flood beneath him,” one extensively shared publish reads.

The flight trail of the Handel Aviation airplane VH-JIL criss-crossing over flooded spaces used to be additionally shared on-line by way of Australian model fashion designer Alice McCall along claims it used to be losing chemical compounds to “turn on rain.”

Handel Aviation operator Mark Handel instructed AFP on Thursday that the corporate does no longer seed clouds.

The flight used to be amassing pictures for aerial maps supplied to Australian mapping corporate NearMap, he mentioned.

“Handel Aviation operates aerial pictures airplane handiest. Our fresh flights over flooded spaces of NSW and QLD are according to the floods,” a remark at the Handel Aviation website online reads.

NearMap showed to AFP the pictures taken by way of Handel Aviation have been commissioned to map disaster-affected spaces for insurers and emergency products and services.  

“Those aerial captures are commissioned after primary climate catastrophes and herbal screw ups, together with following the new east coast flooding,” the NearMap spokesman mentioned.

The claims circulating on-line resulted in greater than 100 threats being despatched to Handel Aviation, in spite of it explaining the aim of the flights at the touch web page of the corporate’s website online.

“We had truly violent threatening stuff coming thru. Like: ‘we have now the pilots’ names, we all know the place you reside, you are going to pay for this,’ more or less stuff,” Handel instructed AFP.

FILE PHOTO: Young Australians take climate protest to prime minister's residence
A flooded highway is observed in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia, following heavy rains on March 2, 2022.

AAP Symbol/Jason O’Brien/REUTERS

Handel mentioned he tasked his operations supervisor, Anthony Berko, with responding to every e-mail and calling individuals who supplied their telephone numbers.

A few of the ones he contacted have been shocked or offended, Berko mentioned. However others have been distressed, telling the skilled pilot that they had misplaced the whole lot all over the floods and idea the corporate used to be accountable.

“They wanted a shoulder to cry on and listen to their tale. They have got principally misplaced the whole lot after which any individual has then mentioned this is your resolution,” Berko mentioned.

In spite of the web claims, cloud seeding isn’t liable for any of the east coast floods, mentioned climate amendment professional Simon Siems.

Siems, a professor who leads a Monash College workforce finding out clouds and precipitation, mentioned the observe isn’t performed within the Northern Rivers area and it can not motive flooding.

“Cloud seeding isn’t that efficient, other people do it handiest below very particular instances,” he mentioned.

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