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HomeFact CheckVideo Showing Raging Forest Fire Not Linked To Plane Crash In Southern...

Video Showing Raging Forest Fire Not Linked To Plane Crash In Southern China 

Several videos claiming to show the aftermath of the plane crash in southern China, that killed all 132 passengers on board, are doing the rounds on the internet since the news of the crash broke on March 21, 2022. One such video shows a major fire raging along a huge hill slope with a billowing column of smoke. Social media users who shared the footage claimed that the plane crash caused a big forest fire in the area, which can be seen in the video. Newschecker has found that the video is not linked to the plane crash and that the claim is false. 

Twitter handle @TheInsiderPaper was among the handles that tweeted the video of fire raging through the mountainside, with the claim ‘Reported footage of China’s #MU5735 plane crash’. The tweet has over 10,000 shares and nearly 5,000 likes. 

Several other users also shared the same video on Twitter and Facebook claiming it to be the aftermath of the plane crash in southern China. 

Several prominent Indian media houses such as Al Jazeera, News 18, Hindustan Times, NDTV and Republic among others also carried stills from the video, identifying it as the crash site.

What we know about the plane crash in southern China

A Boeing 737-800 belonging to the China Eastern Airlines with 132 people on board crashed in mountains in southern China’s Guangxi region after making a sudden plunge from cruising altitude around the time it should have started preparations for landing. Flight MU5735 was en route from the southwestern city of Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, bordering Hong Kong, when it crashed. There is no information about the cause of the accident yet.

Fact Check/Verification 

To verify the authenticity of the video, Newschecker analysed the video posted by @TheInsiderPaper and found that it looked like a regular wildfire and no indications of a plane crash were observed. We further analysed the comments and found a comment by one of the users who claimed that the fire was unrelated to the incident and that the video was from Fujian in China.

We further looked at more comments on other posts carrying the video and found a screenshot of a video with text in Chinese.

Newschecker translated the Chinese text on the video using Google Lens, which said “Dispel the rumors! Video of the mountain fire caused by the China Eastern Airlines passenger plane is fake. A recent video is believed to be the scene of the crash of #MU5735, which has been widely circulated. In the picture, thick smoke and red flames emerge from the mountains and forests, and the background sound is dialect. However, this video was pointed out by many netizens that it was a fire caused by ‘ancestor worship’ in Fujian on the 20th, and the accent did not match Wuzhou, Guangxi. A staff member of the People’s Government of Guanzhuang She Nationality Township, Shanghang County, Longyan City, Fujian Province told reporters that they have paid attention to the video circulating on the Internet. The information is false and has been reported to the relevant departments. Modern Express’s Weibo video”. 

Using this as a clue, Newschecker further copied the Chinese text seen in the video using Google Lens and searched for relevant news reports online. We came across several articles on many Chinese websites pointing out that the video was from Fujian and not Guangxi as was being claimed. 

The text in almost all these web pages read the same. On further research, we found that all the articles traced back to a report done by The Modern Express +, a media house in China. Newschecker further found that the original report published by Modern Express +, revealed that the report was filed by reporter Wang Yi on March 21 after speaking to the local authorities.

Chinese media report on on plane crash in southern China

“At 6 o’clock in the evening on March 21, a reporter from Modern Express called to verify the People’s Government of Guanzhuang She Nationality Township, Shanghang County, Longyan City, Fujian Province. The staff told the reporter that they had paid attention to the video circulating on the Internet. The video screen was from a local village on the 20th. Because the ancestor worship caused a mountain fire, it was not the crash site, and the information on the Internet was untrue, and it has been reported to the relevant departments,” the article reads. The article also pointed out that the dialect used by the people in the video did not correspond to the dialect spoken in Wuzhou, Guangxi.

Newschecker also found a video by the Modern Express +, in which one can hear the interview of the reporter with the local authorities. Newschecker used InVid to split the video into keyframes and analysed the captions superimposed on the video using Google Lens which confirmed what was said in the article.

A screengrab of the video posted by Modern Express + on their YouTube page, in which the local authority can be heard telling the reporter that the viral video is false

Newschecker also noticed that the news websites in India including NDT, Hindustan Times and News 18 had credited the screengrab of the viral video to ShanghaiEye, Chinese state affiliated media. But on verifying the twitter page of ShanghaiEye, no such video was found indicating that the video was removed.

Conclusion 

A video of a wildfire in China’s Fujian that occurred after a festival to worship the ancestors on March 20, is being falsely shared claiming to show the aftermath of the recent plane crash in southern China. 

Result: False Context/ False 

Also Read: Viral Video Of Indonesia Airlines’ Plane Crash Landing Is Fake

Our Sources

Report Published By The Modern Express + On 21.03.2022
YouTube Shorts Uploaded By The Modern Express +


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Pankaj Menon
Pankaj Menon
Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.
Pankaj Menon
Pankaj Menon
Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

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