Old, unrelated visuals shared to show Chennai reeling under cyclone Michaung

By: Rahul Adhikari
December 5 2023

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Old, unrelated visuals shared to show Chennai reeling under cyclone Michaung

Social media posts sharing old visuals to show damage caused by cyclone Michaung. (Soucre: X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The viral visuals are unrelated to the recent heavy rains caused by cyclone Michaung in Chennai.

Claim ID 28089f46

Severe cyclonic storm Michaung forced the evacuation of over 9,500 people in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh as it churned over the Bay of Bengal. Triggering heavy rainfall along India's east coast, Michaung led to intense rainfall and a flood-like situation in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, besides affecting other coastal areas.  

What are the claims?

Several videos and photos are being shared in the wake of the destruction caused by the cyclone. One such image is being circulated on social media, claiming to show the current situation at Chennai airport. The image shows a flooded airport with several planes partially submerged in water. One user posted the image and wrote, "Understand this is Chennai airport today. The sea seems to have taken it over. And the most lowly paid staff in an airline typically are out braving it all. 👏👍(sic)” An archived version of the post can be viewed here.

Screenshot of the viral post on X. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

Another video is going viral with the claim that it shows an inundated street in Chennai following heavy rainfall caused by Michaung. The viral clip shows a man trying to pick up his submerged two-wheeler in the midst of a heavily waterlogged street, with the water level reaching up to his waist. The caption of the post on X (formerly Twitter), originally in Tamil, says, "The situation in Chennai…" The post (archived here) had garnered over 153,000 views and 1,800 likes at the time of writing. 


Screenshot of the viral post on X. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

One more clip is being linked to Chennai in the aftermath of the rains caused by Michaung. The video shows a motorcyclist trying to cross a river using a partially submerged bridge. One user shared the video on X and wrote, "who will stop him to go on water... Yes you can see 👀 too...👇 #ChennaiRains #ChennaiRains2023 #chennairainupdate #cyclonemichaung 🌀#Cyclones #CycloneAlert #RainAlert #ChennaiFloods.” An archived version of the post can be viewed here.

Screenshot of the viral post on X. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)

What did we find?

We conducted reverse-image searches on the above-mentioned image and viral videos' keyframes. We found that none of the viral visuals are related to the current flood-like situation in Chennai caused by Michaung.

The flooded airport image

The viral image dates back to 2015. The image was published on Wikipedia on December 2, 2015. The description of the image read, "Aerial view of submerged Chennai airport taken by Indian Air Force helicopters following heavy rains in Tamil Nadu, December 2015." 

The original image was captured in 2015. (Source: Wikipedia)

The image was also featured in a BBC news report dated December 3, 2015. The report had credited international news agency AFP for the photo. According to the BBC report, a depression in the Bay of Bengal resulted in heavy rainfall in coastal areas, leading to the tragic loss of 269 lives in the floods. The rainfall began in the first week of November, and its impact persisted until mid-December. 

The Hindu had also published the same photo in a report about how authorities were looking into mitigation plans in case of another flooding at Chennai airport. According to the caption, the photo was taken from an Indian Air Force helicopter, and was credited to AFP and state-run Press Information Bureau (PIB).

The viral video of a flooded street

We conducted a reverse image search on the keyframes of the 17-second-long viral video. This led us to a 1:06-minute video titled "Heavy Rain in Chrompet Chennai Tamilnadu | Chennei Rains | Highest Rainfall In July." The video was published by YouTube channel 'TFPC' on July 29, 2020, and features a compilation of several clips showing flooded streets. Visuals from the viral footage match the first 17 seconds of the YouTube video. 

Image comparison between the viral clip and the YouTube video. (Source: X/YouTube/Modified by Logically Facts)

The title of the YouTube video suggests that the clips it features were captured during the heavy rainfall in 2020 in Chrompet, Chennai. Upon further research, we found that a clip shared in the YouTube compilation was also posted from the official X handle of The New Indian Express on July 28, 2020. The caption of the X post read, "#ChennaiRains | Rains caused heavy flooding near Chrompet in Chennai as storm-water drains in the area were closed." 

The similarity in the visuals and the timeline when they were shared suggests that the viral clip of the flooded street was captured in 2020 in Chennai. According to a report by The Times of India, dated July 30, 2020, intense rain had led to heavy waterlogging in parts of Chrompet and Pallavaram in Chennai.

A motorcyclist crossing a river

The viral video of a motorcyclist trying to cross a river was actually posted online long before the recent rainfall lashed Chennai. The earliest version of the video we could find online was posted by X user 'MotorOctane' on April 6. The video immediately went viral after that, with several mainstream news organizations, including Times Now and India TV News, publishing articles about it.

Although we couldn't independently verify the source of the viral video, it is quite clear that it has no relation to cyclone Michaung since it was available online much before the recent cyclonic storm struck the region. We have contacted the X user for further information, and this fact-check will be updated if and when we receive a response. 

Another video showing a crocodile in a flooded street was shared, claiming that the creature was spotted in the waterlogged streets of Chennai. However, this video has surfaced multiple times in the past, coinciding with flood-like situations. Logically Facts had debunked this video earlier and confirmed that the viral video was filmed in Shivpuri, Madhya Pradesh, when an 8-foot-long crocodile entered a flooded street in a residential area in August 2022.

The Chennai Rains 2023

The heavy rainfall caused by the cyclone has disrupted daily life in Chennai, leading to inundated streets and significant damage. According to latest reports, at least eight people have died in rain-related incidents in the city. Here are a few images showing the flood-like situation in Chennai.

Images of the damage caused by the heavy rainfall in Chennai. (Source: X/Greater Chennai Corporation)

The verdict

The viral videos and the photo circulating on social media are unrelated to cyclone Michaung. Old visuals were peddled as recent scenes from Chennai. Therefore, we have marked the claims as false.

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