Here's why I said what I said. The only two previous times Phil has filmed a last-minute special opening was for the Sri Lanka episodes in TAR 6, and the New Orleans episodes in TAR 8, and now this weekend for Chile. Which were the three examples I mentioned. (Unfortunately the writer for Variety wasn't aware of the Katrina/New Orleans episode(s).
And of course, it's not really a curse, but these have been three of the most intense natural disasters since the show first aired; not to mention that the very first episode ever, starting in New York City, aired six days before 9/11.
But it is a weird set of coincidences, nonetheless.