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.
As earthquake-battered Turkey and Syria are struggling to pick up the pieces and move on, a 19-second video claiming that a powerful earthquake rocked Pokhara in which a person died and a bridge collapsed, is going viral on TikTok. The news clip video further claims that the death toll in the Afghanistan earthquake has reached 900. Newschecker found the claim to be misleading.
TikTok user @fuunystar12 posted a video (See archive link) showing footage of ground shaking and panicked commuters trying to stand straight, and buildings collapsing. Audio accompanying the video presented in a news bulletin style says, “There is sad news that a powerful earthquake has struck Pokhara resulting in the collapse of a bridge near Pokhara. A person has fallen off a building roof and died in Pokhara due to the earthquake. The death toll from an earthquake in Afghanistan has reached 920.”
The video posted on February 8 has garnered 53.4k likes, 578 people have shared it and 429 users have commented until the last count.
Fact Check /Verification
To check the authenticity of the claim made in the viral video, Newschecker checked the latest earthquakes in Nepal and found that no major earthquakes have struck Nepal recently. According to sesmonepal.gov.np, the official website of Nepal Earthquake Monitoring and Research Center, the four recent earthquakes of magnitudes ranging from 4.0 to 4.8 had struck Bajura, Taplejung and Rukum districts of Nepal.
So, we closely analysed the video and found that the video carries three clips depicting different locations. As the first clip looked familiar to us, we conducted a search on YouTube using keyword ‘Nepal earthquake’ and found a video whose frames exactly matched the first few seconds of the viral video. The video published on the YouTube channel named TheEventRecorder in June 2015 shows CCTV footage of the moment in Kathmandu when a devastating earthquake struck Nepal on April 25, 2015.
Then we took several keyframes from the second clip and conducted reverse searches on google. However, we couldn’t find any relevant results, confirming that the footage showed the moment when a building collapsed during the recent February 6 earthquake in Turkey and Syria.
Further, we took a keyframe from the third clip and conducted a reverse image search which threw up several results matching the frames from the viral video. On checking a video published in the YouTube Channel of CBS News, we found that the footage exactly matched the viral video. The footage shows the moment when a building collapsed in Turkey’s Sanliurfa province after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the country and neighboring Syria on February 6.
Our findings so far indicated that the video was made up by using several old and unrelated footage of earthquakes from Nepal and Turkey. Then, we also checked if any earthquakes had hit Afghanistan and found that the last time a powerful earthquake hit the country was in June 2022.
The viral video claiming that a fresh earthquake has jolted Pokhara, a tourist town in mid-west Nepal, killing one person and collapsing a bridge is misleading as no powerful earthquake has struck Nepal recently.