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Photo shows firefighters in Australia in 2019, not current day Ukraine

March 18, 2022 GMT

CLAIM: Photo of three men with soot-covered faces shows “Ukrainian firefighters.”

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The picture is from 2019 and was taken in Australia.

THE FACTS: Social media users are sharing the old image with the false claim that it shows firefighters in Ukraine, amid Russia’s invasion of the country.

“Ukrainian firefighters,” a former spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote in a tweet. The post garnered thousands of likes before it was deleted. The photo has also been misrepresented on Facebook.

The image shows three firefighters, their faces covered in soot, seemingly in a helicopter. The man in the foreground is wearing a seatbelt and looking down.

But reverse image searches show the photo is actually from 2019 and was taken in Australia.

The photo was first posted on Facebook in February 2019 by The Wolfe Brothers, an Australian band. The post identified the men as firefighters who had responded to bush fires in Tasmania — and said it had been taken by another firefighter. The image was later shared by many news outlets.

A Tasmania Fire Service spokesperson also confirmed to The Associated Press over email that the photo was of its firefighters.

The same image has been misrepresented in the past.

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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.