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Jeff Cercone
By Jeff Cercone March 29, 2023

Video doesn’t show a zombie virus outbreak in China

If Your Time is short

  • There’s no zombie virus outbreak on a train in China. This video shows a themed event in Indonesia intended to lure young commuters to use public transportation. It’s based on the horror movie "Train to Busan."

Zombies are enjoying a renaissance in pop culture — if they ever left — evidenced by the recent hit series "The Last of Us" that enthralled millions of viewers in its first season.

Some social media users now are claiming the threat is real, sharing a video they say shows a zombie virus outbreak in China, with the flesh-hungry creatures chasing down human prey on a commuter train.

"Zombie virus spotted in China!" read a caption on a March 28 Instagram post, which shared a video of the alleged attack. We traced a watermark on that video to a Twitter user, who shared the video March 27, racking up more than a million views. 

We found multiple examples of the claim being made across several social platforms.

The posts were 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.)

Train commuters can relax — the video isn’t real.

Featured Fact-check

One clue that something was amiss in the posts is that the train station’s signs are in Indonesian — one word that’s visible, instruksi, is Indonesian for instructions. The words "dorong untuk membona pintu" are Indonesian for "push to open the door." 

A reverse-image search of a frame grab from the video led us to this article written in Malay, a language spoken in Indonesia and other countries. The same red-shirted zombie from the Instagram video can be seen in a photograph atop the article.

If zombies on a train sounds like a good movie plot, that’s because it already was — the popular 2016 South Korean horror movie "Train to Busan" was set on a passenger train overrun by zombies. 

The Indonesian article describes an event called "Train to Apocalypse" that was held at a light rail station in Kelapa Gading, Jakarta, and was based on "Train to Busan." The event was designed to lure young commuters to the city’s public transit, the article said.

The "Train to Apocalypse" event was widely covered by the news media when it happened in August and September 2022. The event’s organizer, Pandora Box, posted advertisements and several videos on its Instagram page.

A spokesperson for LRT Jakarta confirmed to Reuters and The Associated Press that the video in the social media post is from that event.

The claim that a video shows a zombie virus outbreak on a passenger train in China is False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, March 28, 2023

Tweet, March 27, 2023

TikTok video, Aug. 8, 2022

Wapcar, "Ride the LRT to meet zombies, a new attraction to encourage young people to ride public transport," Aug. 26, 2022

The Jakarta Post, "Jakarta’s ‘zombie’ train confronts traffic apocalypse,"  Sept. 8, 2022

The South China Morning Post, "Jakarta’s ‘zombie’ train confronts traffic apocalypse," Sept. 8, 2022

Mashable, "Indonesia's using 'Train To Busan'-style zombies to promote public transport," Aug. 25, 2022

Republika, "LRT Provides Two Stations for the 'Train to Apocalypse' Vehicle," Aug. 12, 2022, "Indonesia's 'zombie' train confronts traffic apocalypse," Sept. 12, 2022

Pandora Box, TikTok video, Aug. 6, 2022

Pandora Box, Instagram page

Reuters, "Fact Check-Video shows zombie-themed event in Indonesia," March 29, 2023

The Associated Press, "Video shows Indonesian ‘zombie’ train event, not virus in China," March 28, 2023

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Video doesn’t show a zombie virus outbreak in China

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