Are you into ghost stories? Yeah, who doesn’t, right? Since childhood, we’ve been drawn to and tantalized by ghost stories and even ghost towns. There’s just something eerily fascinating about ghost towns. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re empty and we can easily imagine what the town once looked like. Maybe it’s because we can feel the presence and sense ghosts easier because no one else is around, which can heighten our senses to someone else’s presence – human or otherwise. Or maybe it’s because we just like scaring ourselves and this is one way we can get our kicks because it is much more effective than watching a movie. But these towns should not to be visited. These ghost towns are straight up dangerous and toxic, which means you should stay far, far away. However, that being said, you might be even more tempted to visit because been told not to. Humans are curious creatures after all. But don’t say we didn’t warn you! Some of these towns are seriously lethal. This is no joking matter. Take this warning to heart and don’t go off ghost hunting like a crazy person. It’s not worth it to put your life at risk just to have some haunted adventure. If you need more proof that these places should not be visited, then read on to find out just how dangerous they are.
15. Asbestos Ailments: Wittenoom, Western Australia
Once a mining boomtown during WWII, Wittenoom was famous for mining crocidolite, commonly known as blue asbestos. Unfortunately, miners inhaled the asbestos dust. Unknowingly, the dust also stuck on their clothes as they went back into town. Of course, inhaling the toxic dust caused dire effects. Not surprisingly, the government created a policy to decrease mining activity in the town, then encouraged the residents to move by purchasing their houses. By 1993, the post office, nursing post, school, and airport had all been closed. Later, the town’s name was taken off the map entirely because it became abandoned almost overnight. Of the 20,000 people who resided in Wittenoom, an estimated 2,000 have died from asbestos-related ailments. Even today, mine tailings containing crocidolite extend for several kilometers downstream from the mining sites. The government strongly advises against visiting Wittenoom even though, most recently, scientists said asbestos levels were down to safe levels. No, thank you, it’s not even worth the risk. Wittenoom is definitely not a place you’d want to visit.
14. Asbestos Island: Kantubek, Uzbekistan
Kantubek is located on Vozrozhdeniya Island, which was known infamously as “Asbestos Island.” As if that isn’t enough to keep people out, right? But the sound of that sparked an idea for some government officials to use the island for their own gains. The island was home to a biological weapons testing area— as well as 1,500 full-time residents. One of the main laboratory’s projects was to work on an anthrax vaccine, but the laboratory also worked with smallpox, bubonic plague, brucellosis, and tularemia. Yikes! In 1971, those tests caused ten people on the island to contract smallpox, and as a result three of those people died. The laboratory staff buried tons of anthrax spores and didn’t give warning to residents or report what they did. Those spores remained on Vozrozhdeniya when the lab was abandoned in 1992. Today, the town of Kantubek stands in complete ruin and seething with dangerous chemicals. Despite efforts in 2002 to decontaminate ten anthrax burial sites, microbiologists called the site uninhabitable and a plague.
13. Cancer Risk: Fukushima Exclusion Zone, Japan
In 2011, a tragic earthquake rocked the Fukushima nuclear power plant. China will never forget it. And neither can the rest of the world. It was proof that nuclear power plants are indeed scary business for human kind and, despite their ability to produce energy, are not much worth the risk. That same year, after the earthquake, there was a forced the evacuation of nearby towns, and Namie-machi remains a ghost town within the 12-mile exclusion zone. The empty homes and businesses serve as reminders of a very modern ghost town among the damage from the earthquake. Although as recent as 2013, there have been reports claiming that cancer risk from Fukushima has lessened and people should not be worried. However, the Japanese government isn’t taking any chances with Namie-machi. Residents can receive special permission to return to their homes, perhaps to collect some lost keepsakes or for nostalgia’s sake, but they may not stay overnight because the risk would be too great.
12. Sinking Sand: Kolmanskop, Namibia
This town is quite literally buried in sand. Kolmanskop is a ghost town in southern Namibia, close to Lüderitz, which got caught up in diamond fever in the early 1900s. People rushed into the Namib Desert with dreams of hitting it big with a handful of diamonds. And many were hoping to make an easy fortune. An entire town had been established in the barren sandy desert, which is remarkable. By the time the 1950s rolled around, the town was deserted and the dunes began to reclaim what was always theirs. Everything collapsed under the weight of the sand. That which had signified wealth and splendor had been buried. During this time, it was possible to hear doors and windows creak on their hinges and cracking window panes – it could be heard even from across the desert. From then on, a ghost town was made, and all that remained would be the memories and the ghosts who roamed the desert at night.
11. Nuclear Levels: Pripyat, Ukraine
Prypyat is located in the north of Ukraine and was once known as Chernobyl workers’ home. Now it’s known as the “zone of alienation” and with good reason. It was home to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers, abandoned in 1986 following the Chernobyl disaster. The booming business brought in families from around Ukraine who had been looking for work. After the Chernobyl disaster, the site was practically a museum, documenting the late Soviet era. Everything was abandoned, like the swimming pools, hospitals, and homes. What remains are archives of people’s lives and livelihoods. Everything inside the buildings was left behind, including records, papers, TVs, children’s toys, furniture, valuables, and clothing, etc. When the town was evacuated, residents were only allowed to take away a suitcase full of documents, books, and clothes that were not contaminated. At one point, after everyone had left, looters can and took anything of value that was left behind, but what the looters couldn’t take are the memories, the pain, and the lessons learned in Prypyat.
10. War Ridden: Agdam, Azerbaijan
What makes Agdam’s story so spooky is that it once housed over 150,000 people. But now they are lost and city is in ruins. It was once a thriving city full of energy and life. In 1993, during a war, it fell victim to vandalism yet escaped the destruction of the war itself. Buildings were completely gutted and stripped bare. Agdam residents have moved to other areas of Azerbaijan, as well as into Iran. At one point, there was an artillery strike from Armenian forces that led to the mass evacuation of Agdam by its citizens. By the end of July 1993, the entire town was under the control of the Nagomo Karabakh Republic who, according to reports, committed several violations of the rules of war, which included the forcible displacement of citizens and hostage-taking. The ruins of Agdam serve as a buffer zone between Azerbaijan and the Nagomo Karabakh Republic, meaning that its permanent reoccupation is near-impossible. So while it’s not technically toxic, it is surely dangerous and is most definitely not inhabited.
9. Unexploded Shells: Tyneham, Dorset, UK
WWII led to the seizure of several British countrysides. That’s because more space for military training and bases were essential. As a result, many towns were completely overrun by military force. One example of this is the tiny village of Tyneham in Dorset. Sadly, this meant an immediate eviction of 252 people. Supposedly, the last person to leave Tyneham wrote a note and nailed it to the church door, which read, “Please treat the church and houses with care. We have given up our homes where many of us lived for generations to help win the war and to keep men free. We shall return one day and thank you for treating the village kindly.” Despite the end of WWII, the villagers were never allowed back. Why? One investigative reporter discovered after visiting that the surrounding countryside is littered with warning signs, including unexploded shells and fast-moving armored tanks from the nearby Armored Fighting Vehicles Gunnery School. So it’s literally a death trap. Despite these warnings, visitors are sometimes allowed into the village, where there lies a medieval-era church, a renovated manor house, and a vast array of wildlife.
8. Unexpected Deaths: San Zhi, Taiwan
This was going to be the resort of the future. Located in the North of Taiwan, this futuristic pod village was built under the pretense of bringing in the rich and famous, a real luxury vacation retreat. However, after numerous fatal accidents during construction, production was halted. For many, all the deaths felt like some sort of warning. In addition to lack of money and motivation, very soon the work was stopped permanently. Now what’s left are large alien like structures, as if in memory of those lost. To this day, though, there are still rumors spread regarding the town. People say that the city is now haunted by the ghosts of those who died. It comes as no surprise, despite proof and records of bizarre incidents. The government, who commissioned the site in the first place, was quick to deny these rumors and play down any stories, brushing everything off as superstition. No archives exist on the building of the resort, as though those who had been involved in its construction are somehow ghosts, too.
7. Trash Overflow: Kowloon Walled City, China
Would you dare enter the lawless city of China? You might encounter more than you bargained for. The Kowloon Walled City was located just outside Hong Kong during British rule. It was constructed as a watch point to protect against pirates. Yes, that’s right, it had a watchtower to keep the city free of pirates. At one point, the Japanese occupied it during WWII. Afterwards, it was taken over by squatters after Japan surrendered. No one was legally responsible for Kowloon and that’s where things spiraled out of control. It quickly became a lawless city and dangerous to boot. Its population flourished for decades, with residents building labyrinthine corridors above the street level, which was clogged with trash. The buildings grew so tall that sunlight couldn’t reach the bottom levels. Some claim the entire city had to be illuminated with fluorescent lights. It was a place where brothels, casinos, opium dens, cocaine parlors, food courts serving dog meat, and secret factories ran rampant by authorities. In 1993, authorities finally got enough courage to go in and tear it down.
6. Menacing Military: Famagusta, Cyprus
Once upon a time Famagusta was known as Varosha, a settlement in the then unrecognized Republic of Northern Cyprus. And Famagusta was a hugely successful modern tourist area, however, for the last three decades, it has been a ghost town. In the 1970s, the city was the number one tourist destination in Cyprus, but then the Turks invaded Cyprus 1974. The Turkish Army gained control of the area during the war and their first order was to fence off the city and ban any tourism. No one except Turkish military and United Nations personnel were permitted beyond the gates. No one has been keeping up with the city either, and as a result no repairs have been carried out for 34 years. Buildings are slowly falling apart and withering away. Rumor has it that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus plan to reopen Varosha to tourism. Currently, it’s still dangerous and not safe to enter or stay.
5. Natural Disasters: Craco, Italy
The town’s name dates all the way back to 1060, back when the land was in the ownership of Archbishop Arnaldo, Bishop of Tricarico. In 1891, the population of Craco was well over 2,000 people. Despite many problems of poor agriculture creating desolate conditions, the town began to flourish. The town’s ruin was aggravated by earthquakes, landslides, and war, which caused more than half the inhabitants to immigrate to North America. Shortly after, Craco was plagued by these landslides and quakes. In 1963, the remaining inhabitants were transferred to a nearby valley called Craco Peschiera, which has left Craco in the rundown state it remains in to this day. Craco is located in the Region of Basilicata and the Province of Matera at the instep of the “boot” of Italy. This medieval town is typical of those in the region with its long rolling hills that assist in the farming of wheat and other crops. But as it crumbles today, it’s hard to see that it was once a busy village full of promise. Yet that doesn’t dissuade from its dangerous beauty.
4. Massacre: Oradour-Sur-Glane, France
With the horrors of WWII, it’s no wonder that France has some derelict spaces that conjure war ghosts. Now, ghost towns are now tourist attractions, while others might be dangerous or illegal to visit. Oradour-Sur-Glance is no different. Just stepping into the small village, one can sense the tragedy that struck the town. During World War II, 642 residents were massacred by German soldiers as punishment for the French Resistance. The Germans had initially intended to target nearby Oradour-sur-Vayres. However, as if war wasn’t bad enough, communication was botched so the Germans mistakenly invaded Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10th 1944. According to a survivor’s account, the men were gathered into barns where the residents were shot in the legs so they would die more slowly. The women and children, who were held captive in a local church, all suffered death at the trigger of machine-gun fire. The Germans annihilated the village afterward and left no living thing left alive.
3. Overpopulatation Danger: Gunkanjima, Japan
In 1890, Mitsubishi bought the island and began a project to retrieve coal from the bottom of the sea. This attracted much attention, like too much attention and in 1916 they were forced to build Japan’s first large concrete building on the island to assist production. Soon to follow was a block of apartments that accommodated the multitudes of workers and protected them from hurricanes. But too quickly, the population swelled past the island’s limits and the density of people versus land mass became unbalanced. It was one of the highly populated areas ever recorded worldwide, ever. It was that dangerous. Coal mines then began shutting down all over the country because it was replaced by petroleum. This meant that Mitsubishi mines were no different. With one swift announcement of the coalmine’s closing, the island quickly emptied out. Today, it remains empty, bare, and considered both dangerous and haunted. Travel is currently prohibited.
2. War Damage: Kadykchan, Russia
Like many small Russian villages, Kadykchan fell apart. So much suffering happened during and after the fall of the Soviet Union that it’s hard to document it all. While some agree with the collapse of the Soviet Union, others would beg to differ, citing pain, stress, and trauma as valid reasons. The residents of Kadykchan were forced to leave for fear of war damage and death. It became a vulnerable area where death seemed to be knocking at its door. Residents were forced to move to gain access to services like running water, schools, and medical care. The state moved them out over a period of two weeks because without proper assistance it would have been a lethal move. Once a tiny mining town of 12,000 people, the city is now desolate. In their hurry to leave, residents left their belongings behind in their homes. The cries of families leaving behind their lives in order to survive might been heard among the falling rubble.
1. Whale Remains: Deception Island, Antarctica
It might sound strange that a toxic ghost town would exist seventy-five miles north of Antarctica, but it actually exists. Deception Island is inside the cluster of islands known as the South Shetland Islands. First discovered by a British naval expedition in the 1900s, it was the site for a plethora of thriving early-twentieth century whale hunting. In less than two decades, there were fourteen whale blubber processing plants on the island. The island became so popular that it was fought over by several countries and was finally owned by a variety of nations, including Chile and Norway. After the Great Depression, the whaling plants were unprofitable. Shortly after, it was completely abandoned. The island’s bad luck was only about to get worse. Several volcanic eruptions on the island forced the British to abandon the island entirely, leaving behind rundown gas stations and huts. The island currently has no permanent residents. But that doesn’t stop its booming tourist industry. The variety of industries that once occupied the island have left behind a wealth of ruined buildings and equipment for tourists to explore.
Sources: listverse.com, gizmodo.com, oddee.com