Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.

Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke August 7, 2020

Photos show recent incidents around the world, but there’s more you should know

If Your Time is short

  • This Facebook post shows images of fire and smoke described as occurring in places around the world within the same 24 hours. For the most part, the post accurately describes the locations of the images.
  • These events were not all explosions, like the blast in Beirut. Some were fires and others have not been confirmed by officials in the countries where they were reported.  
  • There are no known connections between the events. They did not all occur within 24 hours, as the post claims, but they did all happen in the span of a few days.

An explosion at a warehouse at the port of Beirut on Aug. 4 killed more than 100 people and injured thousands. Lebanese authorities have said the blast was caused by ammonium nitrate, a chemical commonly used in fertilizer, that was being stored at the warehouse. But the explosion has inspired a slew of conspiracy theories about its cause on social media, several of which we’ve debunked.

One such Facebook post seems incredible, showing six photos of fire and smoke plumes that are described as happening in six different locations around the world: Beirut; Hyesan, North Korea; Wuhan, China; United Arab Emirates; Najaf, Iraq; and St. Paul, Minn.

"All of this happened in the last 24 hours if u aren’t paying attention, on account posted on Aug. 5.  

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The photo of the Beirut blast that appears in the Facebook post has been used in coverage about the explosion. 

The photo the post says is from Hyesan, North Korea, appeared with an Aug. 5 story on Yahoo Japan’s website that was written by a reporter for Daily NK, a South Korean news service. The story appears in Japanese, but UPI, which cites Daily DK among other South Korean news sources, reported that a gas explosion occurred on Aug. 3 in Hyesan, a North Korean city along the China border. 

The photo the post says is from Wuhan, China, is actually from the nearby city of Xiantao, where there was an explosion at a chemical factory on Aug. 3. The Xiantao Party Committee Propaganda Department said on social media that the blast happened in a workshop used to store butanone oxime, according to the Daily Mail

Featured Fact-check

The photo the post says is from the United Arab Emirates shows the scene of a large fire that broke out in the city of Ajman there on Aug. 5. National UAE reported that the fire is believed to have started in a market that had been shuttered for several months due to the coronavirus. The cause is still unknown. 

The photo the post says is from Najaf, Iraq, appears to actually show a still of a video of the Ajman fire in the UAE. A video posted on the website of the Mehr News Agency appears to show a different fire the Iranian news service describes as "a massive fire in more than 20 warehouses of wholesale markets in Najaf, Iraq, on Aug. 5. The Shia News Association reported that the fire started in a food and electrical warehouse.

The photo the post says is from St. Paul shows a large fire at a housing and hotel development downtown on Aug. 4. The cause is under investigation, the local ABC affiliate reported. 

Our ruling

This Facebook post shows images alongside a photo of the Beirut explosion that are described as occurring in other places around the world within the same 24 hours. For the most part, the post accurately describes the locations of the images, though the photo identified as Najaf appears to show the United Arab Emirates instead.

These events were not all explosions, like the Beirut blast, and other than timing, there are no known connections. Some were fires and others have not been confirmed by officials in the countries where they were reported, as USA Today details in its fact-check of a similar post.  

These incidents also did not all occur within 24 hours, as the post claims. But they did happen within a few days of each other. 

We rate this post Mostly True.

 

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ciara O'Rourke

Photos show recent incidents around the world, but there’s more you should know

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up