By: Ankita Kulkarni
August 22 2023
A red laser-like beam seen in the viral video has been digitally added to it; the Russian gas station exploded in 2014 due to a gas leak.
At least 35 people were killed in an explosion at a gas station in the city of Makhachkala in Russia's southern republic of Dagestan last week. In the aftermath of the incident, a video of a gas station exploding and erupting into flames is going viral on X (formerly Twitter). At the beginning of the video, a red beam falls on the station before the explosion.
Several users have shared the video insinuating that recent incidents of deadly fires, like the explosion in Dagestan and the wildfire in Hawaii (locally called Hawai'i), were caused deliberately using advanced weapons. One user shared the video in question with the caption: "All these fires that are appearing these days, the ones in Hawaii, for example, are caused by sophisticated weapons. In this video it is clearly noticeable how fire is shot from above. The Red Laser Beam. (translated from Spanish)." The post alone had over 192,000 views on X. The video is being widely shared on Facebook with a similar narrative. The archive post can be found here and here.
Screengrab of the claims made online.
(Source: Facebook/@Michele Wilson, @Mahir Tawfiq Waheed/Altered by Logically Facts)
However, the video is old and has been digitally manipulated.
A reverse image search on a screenshot of the viral video led us to clip posted on YouTube by RIA Dagestan— a news agency based in Russia. The video, which is nearly seven minutes long, was shared on August 9, 2014. When translated, the video description, written in Russian, read, "As a result of the explosion of the Exson gas station in Makhachkala, 4 people were injured." Around the 1:15 timestamp of the YouTube video, we could observe the same visuals as seen in the viral clip. However, in the YouTube video, which has a much better resolution, no red beam or light is visible before the explosion.
The same day, RIA Dagestan had also published a report on the incident with similar details on its website with a screenshot from the video. The report mentioned that the explosion was due to a gas leak that injured four people and damaged a few vehicles.
YouTube video showing a gas station explosion in 2014
Local media outlet 'mahachkala.bezformata.com' had also published a report on the incident in 2019. In a note at the end of the report, the website cited news agency RIA as the source and stated: "This material was published on the BezFormata website on January 11, 2019, below is the date when the material was published on the source website! Source: RIA Dagestan 10.08.2014 20:09 (translated from Russian)."
We also found that the same video was posted on Facebook by the account 'Journey Revolutionary.' The video was posted on October 6, 2019, and was captioned: "The moment of the explosion of a gas station on the trolleybus ring of the city of Makhachkala." In this video also, no red light or beam can be spotted before the explosion.
A comparison of the viral video and the original video. The latter does not
show any laser beam igniting the fire (Source: X/elzorrotacneno, YouTube/РИА Дагестан)
The above evidence establishes that the viral video predates the recent deadly fires in Russia and Hawaii. The clip was reportedly filmed in August 2014. It seems to have been digitally manipulated to show a red laser-like beam before the explosion to suggest that advanced weapons caused the recent deadly fire incidents.
A series of wildfires that broke out in Hawaii earlier this month, wreaking havoc in the island state, has given rise to a conspiracy theory that the fires were staged using advanced weapons. Logically Facts has debunked similar narratives here and here.
The viral clip is reportedly from Russia and was taken in 2014 when an explosion occurred at a gas station. A red beam was artificially added to the video to propagate an incorrect narrative. Therefore, we mark the claim false.