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Fact Check: Old Visuals Of Aviation Tragedies From Pokhara & Kedarnath Passed Off As Manang Air Chopper Crash

Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become essential today than ever before.

Claim
Viral video claims to show the crash of Manang Air helicopter in Solukhumbu 
Fact
Old visuals of aviation tragedies showing crash of Yeti Airlines in Pokhara of Nepal and 2022 chopper crash in Kedarnath 

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s tragic crash of the Manang Air chopper in Solukhumbu that killed all six people onboard, many false and unverified videos are being shared among Nepali social media users. Newschecker found one such video allegedly showing the crash of the Manang Air chopper in Solukhumbu going viral on TikTok.

Five Mexican tourists on a sightseeing tour and pilot Chet Bahadur Gurung were killed when the chopper crashed near Surke village in Solukhumbu after it took off for Kathmandu, The Kathmandu Post online confirmed.

Against this backdrop, TikTok user @givina.9 posted a video showing footage of people gathering around fire and smoke and another footage showing a helicopter hovering in the sky. The video also showed two images of a crash site on a mountain slope. Text superimposed on the video reads, “A helicopter crashed in Solukhumbu, six people including the chief minister died.” The text, however, doesn’t specify which chief minister died in the crash.

The video posted on July 11 has garnered 28.4k likes, 217 users have shared it and 1133 people have commented on it until the time of publishing this article.  The archived version of the TikTok video can be seen here.

Newschecker found the claim to be misleading.

Fact Check /Verification

To check the veracity of the claim made in the viral video, Newschecker split the video into several keyframes and conducted reverse searches on them. The reverse search on a keyframe depicting a huge plume of smoke and fire led us to a video, dated 15 January 2023, on a YouTube channel named Nabin Samachar. The footage showing the moment after a Yeti Airlines plane crashed in Pokhara earlier this year resembled the footage used in the viral video.

We, then, conducted a search on YouTube by using relevant keywords and found another video on the YouTube channel of AFP News Agency, showing fire and smoke after Yeti Airlines plane crashed in Pokhara earlier this year in January. Our findings showed that the footage used in the viral video purporting to show Tuesday’s crash of Manang Air in Solukhumbu is misleading as it actually shows the moments after Yeti Airlines plane in Pokhara earlier this year in January. All 72 people had died in the aviation disaster in Pokhara.

Further, we conducted a reverse search on two images showing crash debris on a mountain slope used in the viral video. The results pointed us towards a chopper crash incident in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand, India in October 2022.  On checking an article, dated 18 October 2022, published on rediff.com, we found that an image carried in the viral video matched the images used in the viral video. A helicopter carrying Hindu pilgrims crashed near the famous Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand, India, killing six pilgrims and the pilot.

Further, we checked the news report about Tuesday’s helicopter crash and found several reports confirming that all six people—five Mexican tourists and the pilot—were killed in the latest aviation tragedy in Nepal. No Chief Minister was onboard the ill-fated helicopter as claimed by the viral video.

Conclusion

The viral video allegedly showing the crash of Manang Air Chopper in the Mt Everest region in Solukhumbu is misleading as the video shows old and unrelated visuals of aviation disasters in Nepal’s Pokhara and Uttarakhand region of India, and the claim that a chief minister was killed in the tragedy is false.  

Result: False

Sources
Nabin Samachar/ YouTube , 15 January, 2023
AFP /YouTube, 15 January, 2023
The Kathmandu Post, 11 July, January, 2023
Rediff.com, 18 October, 2022


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Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become essential today than ever before.

Sanjeeb Phuyal
Sanjeeb Phuyal
Sanjeeb Phuyal is the Nepali Editor of Newschecker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. He brings over a decade of experience writing and editing news. In his previous stint, he worked as online editor for The Kathmandu Post. With the growth of social media platforms—and the ever-growing competition amongst media outlets to churn out breaking news, he feels that fact-checking every piece of information has become essential today than ever before.

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