As Sri Lanka reels under the worst economic crisis in its history, social media is inundated with unverified videos of arson and attacks, claiming to be from the island nation. One such video, which shows a set of parked luxury cars including Lamborghinis and a Limousine up in flames is going viral. Those sharing the video allege that these luxury cars set on fire belonged to the former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son. Newschecker has found the claim to be false.
Twitter user @JsPalani ‘s post which included this video was retweeted by 10,000 others and received 16,000 likes.
Several other users also posted similar videos on Twitter stating the cars belonged to Rajapaksa’s Son. Most of the captions accompanying the viral video indicated that the luxury cars were set on fire by angry citizens of Sri Lanka.
In addition, Newschecker also received the same video on our WhatsApp tipline (9999499044), requesting for it to be fact-checked- indicating that the same video is being widely shared in private messaging apps as well.
Sri Lanka’s Worst Economic Crisis
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Tuesday, paving the way for his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa to form an all-party government as the country faces the worst economic crisis in history. The move came amidst clashes between the supporters of the ruling party and the anti-government protesters. The authorities have ordered shoot at sight order to reign in protests that have reportedly turned violent, with several instances of arson, specifically aimed at the members of the ruling party coming to light. The situation is worsening, with fast-depleting foreign reserves hardly sufficient to pay for a month’s import of fuel, LPG, essential foods, and medicines. The country has come to a halt as politicians jockey for power and influence.
Fact check/ Verification
To verify the authenticity of the video, Newschecker began by conducting a keyword search with the words ‘Rajapaksa’, ‘Son’, and ‘Cars burnt’ on the social media platform Twitter and came across several videos that resembled the viral video showing several luxury cars set on fire.
On scanning the comment section of the video, we saw several users call out the description as false, identifying the cars to be from Avenra Gardens Hotel in Sri Lanka.
On looking up the words ‘Avenra Garden’ and ‘Cars torched’, Newschecker found several reports that detailed the incident.
The first result that popped up was a report on the website TheTalksToday.com, which stated that the Avenra Hotel on Mirigama Road in Sri Lanka’s Negombo, was torched along with the luxury cars including Lamborghinis that stood on the premises. The article revealed that the owner of the hotel is Sachith De Silva. We used this as a cue to research further about Sachith De Silva, which threw up several relevant results.
Sachith De Silva’s LinkedIn page states him to be a director of the Avenra group since 2016 after studying hospitality management in Australia. A look at his Facebook page indicates his penchant for fancy automobiles and features images of the very same vehicles that were seen in the viral video. While online reports indicate that his net worth may be around $10 Mn, there is no verified information in this regard. According to reports, De Silva is also a drag racer and lives a high-end lifestyle.
Further, Newschecker looked up the keywords ‘Avenra Gardens’ and ‘Cars’ on YouTube and found several videos showing the same set of cars seen in the viral video.
Several users also shared the same viral video and identified it as the collection of luxury cars in the Avenra Gardens Hotel.
One of the Twitter users also claimed that the owner of Avenra Hotels was a supporter of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna or the SLPP which holds the current government in the island nation.
The viral video showing several luxury cars set on fire has been shot from the premises of the Avenra Garden Hotels, which is owned by Sachith De Silva, and not Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son.
Result: Misleading/Partly False
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