Old video of garbage flowing through street shared as 2023 Burning Man festival

By: Praveen Kumar
September 5 2023

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Old video of garbage flowing through street shared as 2023 Burning Man festival


The Verdict False

A video of a flood reportedly washing away heaps of trash in Haiti is shared to claim it shows the Burning Man festival in September 2023.

Claim ID edbc2147


Following news of heavy rains at the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, social media users started circulating visuals, claiming to show visuals of people attempting to leave the festival site in the early hours of September 4. Among them was a viral video that showed a road turned into a river of water full of garbage. It is being shared with the caption, “New video just released of people trying to flee Burning Man caught in a river of trash. This is how Ebola spreads!!!” on X. One such X post has gained over 143,600 views. The archived posts can be found here, here, here, and here.

Burning Man is an annual music and arts festival that takes place over the course of a week, where a large number of participants camp out in the desert. Reuters reported on September 2, 2023, that heavy rains had turned the site into mud and that tens of thousands of people attending the festival were told to shelter in place and conserve food and water. Movement of vehicles to and from the event site was resumed on September 4, according to the organizers.

 However, the viral video is old and not from the ongoing Burning Man festival.

 What we found

A reverse image search of images from the video shows that it has existed on the internet since at least November 22, 2018. Logically Facts found news reports stating the video showed the effects of a series of floods at the time. 

Argentinian news outlet Cadena 3 Argentina reported on November 23, 2018, that the viral video showed a “river of garbage” on the streets of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. The report carried an X post with the video by Mar Gómez, a Spanish meteorologist. The report also credited the video to a Facebook post by Severe World Weather, an official website of the World Meteorological Organization’s National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.

This video has existed on the internet since at least November 2018. (Source: X)

 Similarly, this was also posted on YouTube by the Spanish website Meteored (Tiempo.com) on November 22, 2018. The description for the video reads, “Last week, Haiti registered an episode of heavy rains that turned the streets of some coastal cities into real rivers of garbage.”

A YouTube video showing the viral footage posted on November 22, 2018. (Source: El Tiempo / YouTube)

The Severe World Weather post on Facebook and X, the Meteored video, and Gómez all credited the video to a Facebook post by an account named "beach cleaner." This Facebook post also dates back to November 22, 2018. Its caption reads, “The first seasonal rains in Haiti last week resulted in this plastic flush to the ocean.”

Screenshot of the oldest post of the viral video from November 2018. (Source: Facebook)

Where was the video shot?

By examining the video for visual clues, we identified a sign for a gas station with the word “Sol," a petroleum supplier in the Caribbean Basin.

Comparison of the sign in the viral video and the Sol Petroleum logo. (Source: X / Sol Petroleum)

According to Sol Petroleum's website, it is a supplier of petroleum-based products in the Caribbean and Central and South America. There are no Sol gas stations listed online in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, U.S.

In connection to unverified claims of an Ebola outbreak at the festival, a rumor denied by the festival organizers, the viral video caption also says, “This is how Ebola spreads,” referring to the waste-filled flood waters. However, according to the World Health Organization and other public health authorities, Ebola only spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact and blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola. It is not spread through casual contact, air, or water.

 The verdict

An old video of a flood washing away garbage is being circulated with the claim that it shows the effects of heavy rains during the recent Burning Man festival in Nevada, U.S. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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