Videos of past disasters spread after quake in Turkey and Syria

February 6, 2023 GMT
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In this August 5, 2020, file photo, a drone picture shows the destruction after an explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. On Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, The Associated Press reported on footage from the blast being misrepresented as showing the aftermath of an earthquake in Turkey and Syria. (AP Photo, Hussein Malla, File)
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In this August 5, 2020, file photo, a drone picture shows the destruction after an explosion at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. On Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, The Associated Press reported on footage from the blast being misrepresented as showing the aftermath of an earthquake in Turkey and Syria. (AP Photo, Hussein Malla, File)

As footage of the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Turkey and Syria spread online on Monday, some social media posts shared old and unrelated videos, falsely claiming they showed the quake.

Among the misrepresented videos were clips of a 2021 condominium collapse in Florida, a 2020 port explosion in Beirut and a 2011 tsunami in Japan.

Here’s a closer look at the facts.

CLAIM: Security footage of a large building collapsing in a cloud of smoke shows Monday’s earthquake in Turkey.

THE FACTS: The video shows security camera footage of the condo building collapse in Surfside, a town outside Miami, on June 24, 2021. The clip was featured in coverage of the tragedy by multiple news outlets at the time.

A Twitter user shared the video and falsely claimed the clip showed the earthquake in Turkey. The post had more than 830,000 views.

The 12-story oceanfront condo building in Surfside collapsed in the middle of the night, killing 98 people.


CLAIM: Video shows a tsunami at a beach in Turkey following the earthquake.

THE FACTS: The video, which captures an aerial view of people screaming and running away from a massive wave, was filmed on a beach in Durban, South Africa, in March 2017. The incident occurred at North Beach in Durban, a geolocation search confirms.

#Tsunami and Earthquake in Turkey,” a Twitter user who shared the video on Monday falsely claimed. The clip had more than 300,000 views.

Multiple social media users posted similar photos and videos of the wave’s aftermath in 2017. One photo of the damage, posted on Facebook on March 12, 2017, shows the same pool next to Lower Marine Parade Street that’s also shown in the video.

Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said on Twitter there was no tsunami danger on its eastern Mediterranean coast after Monday’s earthquake.


CLAIM: A nuclear plant exploded in Turkey because of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake Monday.

THE FACTS: A video of a monstrous explosion in a port city does not show a nuclear plant in Turkey following Monday’s earthquake.

Social media users are sharing a video of a facility storing ammonium nitrate exploding in the port of Beirut on Aug. 4, 2020. The blast led to the deaths of more than 200 people.

The clip, taken from a rooftop business, overlooks the port as a cloud of smoke rises and then a large ball of fire erupts, rocking the city.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Russia’s Rosatom company said that the nuclear plant it is currently building in southern Turkey was not affected by the earthquake.


CLAIM: Video shows building collapse in Turkey as several hundred are reported dead.

THE FACTS: Social media users are misrepresenting a video of a building collapse in the city of Izmir, Turkey, from 2020 to say it shows Monday’s earthquake.

The video of the building was taken from an earthquake that struck in the Aegean Sea between the Turkish coast and the Greek Island of Samos on Oct. 30, 2020. In the video circulating online, the camera shakes as half of a building falls to the ground and a cloud of dust rises as one person runs by.

The video from 2020 was shared widely at the time and picked up by news organizations including The Guardian. A longer version of the clip shows trees with green leaves and people running around in the aftermath wearing short sleeved T-shirts, which would not be the case on Monday as it is currently winter in Turkey. A 2018 Google Street View photo of the building before the collapse matches with the same local business and scenery in the video circulating online.

The Associated Press reported that at least 19 people died and more than 700 were injured in the 2020 earthquake. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, AFAD, confirmed that 17 of those people were killed in Izmir, Turkey’s third-largest city.

The 2020 earthquake was measured to be a magnitude of 6.9 by the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute in Turkey and 6.6. by AFAD.


CLAIM: Video of scaffolding dramatically falling off a building is from Monday’s earthquake in Turkey.

THE FACTS: The video was filmed in April 2016, during high winds in western Tokyo.

The 29-second clip, which amassed thousands of views on Twitter on Monday, looks down an arterial street. On the right side of the video, a tall building’s scaffolding peels off and loudly tumbles to the ground.

Social media users spread it with claims it showed the billions of dollars of financial loss in Turkey caused by Monday’s earthquake, but a reverse-image search shows the video was filmed nearly seven years ago, in Japan.

The original footage was featured in news reports at the time, which explained that it showed a nine-story building’s scaffolding falling off during strong winds in western Tokyo. The Japan Times featured a still image of the same scene, adding that the building had been scheduled for demolition and that no one was injured.

Google Street View imagery confirms that the video was captured in western Tokyo, at an intersection near the Tama River. Lampposts, buildings and landscaping on the street at this location match those in the video spreading online.


CLAIM: Clips of waves crashing against a coastline, overturning boats and cars, show a tsunami hitting the Turkey-Syria coastline after Monday’s earthquake.

THE FACTS: The clips date to March 2011, when one of the strongest earthquakes on record hit Japan, triggering massive tsunami waves along its northeastern coast.

The 12-year-old clips spreading widely on Twitter show strong waves battering a coastline, flipping cars beside a highway and pushing a boat over sideways as it slams into an overpass.

Both clips circulating Monday originated from All-Nippon News Network footage of the tsunami in Miyako, Japan, in March 2011.

The disaster often referred to as the Great East Japan Earthquake struck off Japan’s coast on March 11, 2011, triggering a towering tsunami that reached land within a half hour, the AP reported at the time. Japan’s National Police Agency said that more than 18,000 people died, mostly from the tsunami.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.