False: The video shows a black cloud over East Palestine, Ohio, after a train carrying chemical materials derailed in the area.

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
February 24 2023

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False: The video shows a black cloud over East Palestine, Ohio, after a train carrying chemical materials derailed in the area.


The Verdict False

This video of the black cloud was first uploaded on TikTok in November 2022. It predates the train derailment in Ohio and is unrelated to it.

Claim ID 4f660937


The derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 3, 2023, has caused confusion and panic in the United States. The BBC reported that residents of the area have reported feeling unwell, and environmental officials have now stated that 45,000 animals have died due to the train crash.

Following the derailment, the authorities decided to release and burn a hazardous chemical compound, vinyl chloride, from five of the railway's rail carriages to avoid the risk of explosion. Before the crew carried out the controlled chemical discharge, residents within a mile of the East Palestine area were ordered to evacuate. According to the BBC, several photos from East Palestine showed enormous plumes of black smoke immediately after the controlled release of the chemical.

Even though the incident was captured in several authentic images and videos, false and exaggerated claims about the incident have gone viral on social media. Some social media users have been sharing a video of a dark cloud, incorrectly claiming it was after the derailment in Ohio in February 2023. The 21-second video, captured from a moving vehicle, shows a vast, dark black cloud dominating the sky. The video also had text overlaid that read, ''Someone asked me to reupload the original here it is! Please leave my voice outta here.''

One tweet with this video included a Spanish caption which translates to: "The World's Largest Toxic Cloud in Ohio, U.S.'' This Twitter video received a million views. Another Twitter post with the same video stated: ''The East Palestine region of Ohio, where an environmental disaster occurred, is becoming an ominous place.''

In Fact

By conducting a reverse image search, we found that the same video with a music soundtrack was posted on TikTok in November 2022. This TikTok video had the caption: ''That one time stranger things clouds rolled in Oregon.'' The same account reuploaded the video in January 2023 without any soundtrack and the caption "#portlandoregon #realfootage #Dontshootme #reupload," which garnered massive user engagement. This reuploaded video had the text reading, ''Someone asked me to reupload the original here it is! Please leave my voice outta here,'' and also had the woman's exclamation in the background, similar to the viral Twitter video.

In response to multiple comments allegedly fighting over the reuploaded video, the user clarified in another TikTok video on February 6 that the video is old and had not been altered. She said the video was recorded in Portland near Jantzen Beach and was several months old. In the video, she says at the 58-second mark, "It is not fake. It is not an app that I edited. I didn't do anything to it; it's an old video. I had it up before, and I ended up deleting all the videos from my TikTok and restarted uploading other videos, which were kind of the same." She also stated that somebody had asked her to reupload it without the music.

Shayan Sardarizadeh, a BBC journalist reporting on misinformation, debunked this claim on Twitter. He posted a screenshot of the video's original source on TikTok and quoted its caption that said they were scud clouds from Portland, Oregon. Scud clouds are a type of cloud that forms at a lower height above the ground and is frequently associated with storms and bad weather.

While we could not independently verify the location of the video and when it was taken, it is clear that the footage has been available online since November 2022 and therefore has no connection to the train derailment in Ohio that occurred in February 2023.

The Verdict

This video, uploaded online in at least November 2022, does not depict the sky over Ohio after the train's chemicals were burned in the first week of February 2023. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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