Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Loreben Tuquero
By Loreben Tuquero August 30, 2023

Video doesn’t show ‘Great Britain now’ with people underwater. Clips are misrepresented

If Your Time is short

  • There are no credible reports that 78,000 people are "under the water" in Great Britain.

  • This video contains numerous clips from past weather events, some of which are not in Britain.

  • The video’s opening image was not from a disaster at all but from a staged 2019 climate protest near London’s Tower Bridge.

The Facebook video proclaimed catastrophic news.

"Great Britain now! 78,000 people under the water!" read an Aug. 26 Facebook video’s caption. The video flashed through images showing vehicles and structures submerged in water, including a house floating in what looked like the River Thames in front of London’s Tower Bridge. 

But a close look showed the video’s premise doesn’t hold up. Of its 14 clips showing footage of severe weather incidents, we found 10 were misrepresented. We couldn’t trace the other four to their original sources.

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

We found no credible news reports about such widespread flooding in Britain. But we did find an Aug. 26 YouTube video with the same claim and images.

However, reverse-image searches showed at least 10 clips in the video showed neither "Great Britain now," nor people underwater. The videos were taken in different locations — some outside Britain — and in different years. 

Featured Fact-check

The first clip was uploaded in 2019, when the activist group Extinction Rebellion staged a submerged house in the River Thames to protest climate change inaction. 

Another was taken in February 2022, showing a pub underwater in Telford, England. A separate was from February 2022 showed the impact of Storm Franklin in North Ayrshire, Scotland.

The video also included footage showing River Taff in Cardiff, Wales, in January after heavy rainfall, "equivalent of a month’s rain" in 24 hours. Another showed a farm surrounded by floodwater in the Tywi Valley, Wales, also in January.

One clip of flooded streets in London was uploaded in 2022 after flash flooding. Meanwhile, the location of a clip of lightning striking a tree is unclear but it was circulating as early as 2017.

Some of the videos images were not from Britain. Video of cars along flooded streets was captured in Polokwane, South Africa, this past February. One was uploaded in September 2019 and was taken in Canada. Another one, uploaded in May 2022, showed hail in Texas.

There have been major floods in Britain in recent years, including throughout the United Kingdom in early August, but no single event of the scale that this video describes. Experts warn that there is a growing risk of floods across the United Kingdom because of climate change

We rate the claim that a video showed "78,000 people under the water" now in Great Britain False.

Our Sources

Facebook post (archived), Aug. 26, 2023

YouTube video, Great Britain now! 78,000 people under the water! London and Liverpool closed!, Aug. 26, 2023

The Weather Channel, ‘Sinking House’ Protest in London Calls for Climate Action, April 3, 2020, Eco protesters Extinction Rebellion sail a HOUSE down the River Thames in a bid to draw attention to rising sea levels, Nov. 10, 2019

Extinction Rebellion UK Tweet, Nov. 10, 2019

Newsflare, Pub underwater: ‘Major incident’ declared in Ironbridge, Shropshire, as flood waters rise, Feb. 22, 2022

Lydia Stephens’ tweet, Jan. 12, 2023

WalesOnline, River Taff bursts its banks as heavy floods hit Cardiff, Jan. 12, 2023

WalesOnline, Recovery gets underway after Wales hit by month's rainfall in 24 hours - live updates, Jan. 13, 2023

BBC London tweet, Aug. 17, 2022

Aparat post, Dec. 2, 2017

Daily Sun, WATCH: Rain causing havoc in Limpopo, Feb. 2, 2023

BBC News, River Tywi: Farm surrounded by floodwater as more rain due, Jan. 10, 2023

Facebook post, May 25, 2022

Daily Mail, Ironbridge holds its breath... AGAIN: Shropshire town is evacuated for second time in two years as River Severn threatens to breach flood barriers after Storm Franklin wreaks havoc across UK with 87mph gales and torrential rain, Feb. 21, 2022, Storm Franklin: Flights and trains cancelled as UK hit by third storm in a week, Feb. 21, 2022

La Chaîne Météo tweet, Sept. 26, 2019

BBC News, Storm Antoni: Strong winds and heavy rain set to clear, Aug. 5, 2023

The Independent, ‘I just want to cry’: Flooding hits UK as Storm Antoni brings month of rain in less than 24 hours, Aug. 6, 2023

Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA3) future flood risk main report, July 2020

British Red Cross, What you need to know about floods in the UK, Aug. 4, 2023

British Red Cross, British Red Cross warns UK ill-prepared for floods, with only one-in-seven people aware of what action to take, Dec. 2, 2022

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Loreben Tuquero

Video doesn’t show ‘Great Britain now’ with people underwater. Clips are misrepresented

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