Fact Check: Lebanon explosion that happened in 2020 linked falsely with Turkey earthquake
Turkey’s earthquakes triggered many false and misleading videos on social media. One such video claimed that a nuclear plant exploded due to an earthquake in Turkey. However, it turned out to be untrue as the video shows the Beirut Port blast from August 4, 2020; the visuals are not from Turkey.
- By Vishvas News
- Updated: February 9, 2023
New Delhi (Vishvas News): With more than 8,000 people killed in the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake, Turkey is suffering through one of its worst phases. On the one hand, news reports share details about rescue efforts, while some social media posts share old and unrelated videos, falsely claiming they showed the quake.
Vishvas News debunked the false information and found that a video showing a building explosion is old and dates back to August 2020, when an incident occurred at the Port of Beirut in Lebanon.
Facebook user Inka-Hellas Ike Ike shared this post (archive link) on February 7, which read: “BREAKING: Nuclear plant explode due to Earthquake in Turkey.”
Vishvas News, through an open keyword search (Nuclear plant explode due to Earthquake in Turkey), found many similar claims on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
But when we checked international, national and local media reports (Jagran, Reuters, BBC, Hurriyet), there was no mention of an explosion occurring at a nuclear site in the quake-struck region. The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations (UN), too, did not report any such incident.
Next, we checked that Turkey has only one nuclear plant — the Akkuyu nuclear power plant — currently being constructed in Mersin province in Turkey. Associated Press (AP) reported that the earthquake did not damage the nuclear plant.
The website World Nuclear News, which reports on nuclear energy, also reported the same.
Further, researching keyframes from the video through the InVID tool, we found the video is from Beirut, Lebanon. USA Today reported that incident on August 4, 2020.
Multiple news agencies, such as here and here, reported the same incident. As per these reports, a fire at the Beirut port caused the detonation of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, which had been improperly stored in a warehouse for six years.
Finally, via email, we contacted Özgür Korkmaz, Managing Editor of Turkey’s leading news website Hurriyet Daily News. He responded, “There is no active nuclear plant in the region. One is under construction in Mersin but still in the early stages.”
This sums up that old visuals of an explosion in Beirut have been passed off as a nuclear plant explosion in Turkey during the current earthquake.
On February 6, 2023, the first four earthquakes struck southern Turkey and northwestern Syria early in the morning. In both countries, many buildings collapsed due to the multiple earthquakes, and around 9,000 people were killed.
On performing a social scan of the user who had shared the viral claim, Vishvas News found that he lives in Rhodes, Greece and has 548 friends on Facebook.
Conclusion: Turkey’s earthquakes triggered many false and misleading videos on social media. One such video claimed that a nuclear plant exploded due to an earthquake in Turkey. However, it turned out to be untrue as the video shows the Beirut Port blast from August 4, 2020; the visuals are not from Turkey.
- Claim Review : Nuclear plant explode due to Earthquake in Turkey.
- Claimed By : Fb user: Inka-hellas Ike Ike
- Fact Check : Misleading
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