By: Soham Shah
July 12 2023
This is an old video from a dam in China’s Yellow River and does not show the Bhakra Nangal Dam in Himachal Pradesh amid heavy rains.
North India has been battered by floods and landslides in light of recent heavy rains. According to India Today, the state of Himachal Pradesh has been the worst hit, reporting 80 of the 100 deaths nationwide. Over 300 people, including tourists, are stuck in the state’s hill stations. Many bridges have been destroyed by heavy river flow, and some areas of Uttarakhand and Delhi are also facing severe issues.
Amid this, a video shared on Twitter shows a massive amount of water flowing off a huge ramp of what appears to be a dam structure. The video was shared with the caption, “Flood gates of Nangal Dam have been opened today.” The text inside the video also says the same in Hindi.
The Bhakra Nangal Dam is located on the Satluj River in Himachal Pradesh. It is one of India’s biggest infrastructure projects and is the second-highest dam in Asia.
However, the viral video is old and not from the Bhakra Nangal Dam.
Using keyframes from the video, we performed a reverse image search on Google. This led us to a Persian website, aparat.com, which published the video with the title: “This is the flood in China.”
Using this lead, we found a video uploaded to YouTube in July 2020 which claimed to show the dam of the Xiaolangdi Reservoir on the Yellow River. Close to the 3:30 minute mark, white features can be seen on the top of the mountain across the dam. These features are also visible on a mountain seen at the beginning of the viral video, indicating that the location is the same.
We also found the viral video posted on Facebook by a user on July 21, 2018. The translated caption of the video says., “Xiaolangdi of the Yellow River! It's spectacular!”
A Facebook post from 2020 by Chinese state-controlled media People’s Daily carries a video showing the same location with the caption., “Yellow River Xiaolangdi opened flood gates to form a waterfall.” The first three seconds of this footage, showing water gushing over the ramp, are similar to those of the viral video. However, this video seems to be taken at a different instance as the color of the water is different from that in the viral video. The same white structures on the mountain can be seen in this video as well. Both videos also show a similar viewing terrace surrounded by rails beside the first ramp, which is empty in the People’s Daily video but occupied in the viral video.
Another video by China Global Television Network (CGTN) titled “Xiaolangdi Reservoir Dam on Yellow River discharges water” shows an aerial view of the dam, with water flowing off ramps similar to that seen in the viral video. As this video is of much higher quality, the white structures on the mountain in the background can clearly be seen.
A report by The New York Times from 2012 shows muddy water rushing off the same ramp. It further talks about how Chinese officials annually open large portals along the wall of the dam for two weeks before the flooding season for a cleansing ritual of the Yellow River at the end of June and the start of July.
The viral video has previously falsely been shared as a flood in the Pawna dam near Pune.
We have marked this claim as false as the video has been in circulation since at least 2018 and cannot, therefore, show visuals from the Bhakra Nangal Dam in recent days. The visuals of the dam are reportedly from the Yellow River in China.