It’s at least remotely possible that this was one big accident. Sure, perhaps the men in charge didn’t realize the detonation chamber was filled with saturated montmorillonite clay – which cannot compress and – when the blast went off, the superheated clay steam had to go somewhere.
Maybe they didn’t notice that a vertical fault line, just 200 feet from the blast chamber, pointed straight up, creating a superhighway to disaster. Conceivably the men who called the shot didn’t realize that 900 people had NOT been evacuated from a work area just three miles from the blast site. Undoubtedly they didn’t understand that the rescue workers sent in to evacuate those 900 victims had neither training nor protective gear. Presumably, it was all a big mistake.
Or, possibly, they just wanted to see how people would respond to a total disaster.
There is another possibility. Baneberry is a deadly plant, and the origin of the name, “bane,” means death. And of course, this test was number 666 – the biblical “number of the beast,” another name for Satan. If hotels can skip the 13th floor, why couldn’t the test site have skipped test number 666. They didn’t, so perhaps this test was cursed? Stranger things have happened.