By: Urva Kapoor
July 27 2023
We found that the video was shot in 2011 in Ishinomaki, Japan, when a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami.
A 30 second video showing water gushing into an urban area, sweeping away cars, and causing destruction, has been going viral on social media. The video is being claimed as footage of the recent devastation caused by floodwaters in Punjab and Rajasthan. Record-breaking monsoon rains have claimed the lives of more than 145 people in north India this year.
A Facebook user shared the video in early July with a caption originally in Hindi: "The situation in some districts of Punjab has become serious due to floods, I request the residents of Hanumangarh city, Pilibanga and Suratgarh of Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan to be alert and move carefully as the water flow in Ghaggar river is going to increase." (translated from Hindi) The video has been liked 56k times and has been shared 10k times since.
After conducting a reverse image search on keyframes of the video, we discovered a longer version of the same video uploaded on a YouTube channel, ‘John9612’, on April 30, 2012, with the title "2011 Japan Tsunami: Ishinomaki." According to the description, the footage was captured from the rooftop of Ishinomaki Gas, located in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture of Japan.
The video description also included another YouTube link as the original video besides a Google Maps link for the location of the place. The linked video, over four minutes in length, was traced back to the YouTube channel 'Takuro Suzuki' and was uploaded on December 18, 2011. It was titled ‘石巻市 津波 TSUNAMI JAPAN 3.11/2011’.
Taking a cue from these mentions of the 2011 tsunami, we tracked down the same video published on Dec 18, 2011, by FNN31, one of the official YouTube channels of Fuji News Network, a Japanese television network. The video description stated that it showed the tsunami hitting Ishinomaki city and added that the video was captured by Koichi Abe, who worked at Ishinomaki Gas Inc. It also reported that around 35 people, including Ishinomaki Gas employees, sought refuge on the same rooftop after a devastating earthquake led to a tsunami.
We were also able to geolocate the place seen in the video on Google Maps, taking hints from the link provided in the description of the YouTube video uploaded by ‘John9612’. At 2:47 of both the longer videos, we noted three distinct blue towers and two blue round structures. On cross-referencing it on Google Maps, the same structures are visible at the location. Another notable similarity could be seen at 0:03 in the videos, where a building across the main road was clearly visible. We were able to locate the same building on Google Maps.
In 2011, Japan experienced its most powerful earthquake since records began, measuring 8.9 in magnitude. The quake triggered a massive tsunami that swept away cars, ships, and buildings along the northeast coast. Japan faced widespread destruction, severely affecting the coastal communities in Miyagi and Fukushima. The disaster caused significant disruptions and damages to infrastructure and properties.
The viral video claiming to show recent floods in north India is, in fact, a 2011 footage of the tsunami in Japan's Ishinomaki area. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.