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The Associated Press

Indonesia tsunami video misrepresented as Turkey after earthquake


In this Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, people survey the mosque damaged in a massive earthquake and a tsunami in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. On Tuesday, February 7, 2023, The Associated Press reported on posts misrepresenting video of the tsunami as showing Turkey after its Feb. 6 earthquake. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana, File)

CLAIM: Video of a tsunami wave crashing against a shoreline and hitting buildings as people run for safety shows Turkey’s shore after Monday’s earthquake.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. This video was shot during a tsunami in Palu, Indonesia, in September 2018.

THE FACTS: Misrepresented videos of past disasters are ricocheting across the internet this week after a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit large swaths of Turkey and Syria. Among them is a clip from a 2018 tsunami on an Indonesian island.

The clip, which shows shaky cellphone footage of a tsunami wave hitting a shoreline, was viewed thousands of times on social media on Monday and Tuesday. On Facebook, a post captioned “Tsunami Hits Turkey Shore” exploited the video to solicit donations.

However, a reverse-image search of screenshots from the video showed it originated in September 2018, when a magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, triggering a tsunami that unleashed waves as high as 6 meters (20 feet), killing hundreds.

The video appeared on Indonesian television and in numerous news outlets at the time. The tsunami, which hit the city of Palu as well as the smaller city of Donggala and other coastal settlements, killed more than 800 people and swept away numerous homes and a large mosque, according to Associated Press reporting.

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.


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.

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