Old photo of building damaged in 2018 Taiwan earthquake shared as recent

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
April 12 2024

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Old photo of building damaged in 2018 Taiwan earthquake shared as recent

Screenshot of the Facebook post sharing an image of the tilted Yun Men Tsui Ti building falsely claiming it's linked to the recent earthquake in Taiwan. (Source: Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Misleading

The photo depicts the Yun Men Tsui Ti building in Hualien, Taiwan, which suffered severe damage during a 6.4 magnitude earthquake in February 2018.

Claim ID 30bfd294

What's the claim?

On April 3, 2024, Taiwan experienced a devastating 7.4 magnitude earthquake, resulting in the loss of at least 13 lives and injuries to over 1,100 individuals. The seismic activity significantly damaged numerous buildings, marking it as one of the most severe tremors in the region's history.

In the aftermath of this disaster, a viral photograph depicting a precariously tilted multi-story building circulated on social media platforms, accompanied by a heartfelt plea for divine intervention and support for those impacted by the Taiwan quake. This post, shared on Facebook, garnered approximately 12,000 likes. An archived version of the post is accessible here.

Screenshot of Facebook posts from April 2024. (Source: Facebook/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, it was discovered that the image actually portrays the aftermath of an earthquake that struck Taiwan in February 2018, not the recent one in April 2024.

What we found

A reverse image search revealed that Voice of America, a state-owned news network and international radio broadcaster in the U.S., had published the photo in a report dated February 7, 2018.

The accompanying caption describes the image as depicting a residential building leaning on a collapsed first floor in the aftermath of an earthquake on February 7, 2018, in Hualien, a city in Taiwan. The caption credits the Central News Agency (CNA) via AP (Associated Press) for the photo.

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the viral Facebook post and the VOA photo of the 2018 quake. (Source: Facebook/VOA/Screenshot)

Further investigation revealed the same images in the AP newsroom editorial photo archives, dating back to February 2018. The images were described as depicting the Yun Men Tsui Ti building, a large commercial-residential complex, tilted in Hualien, Taiwan, on February 10, 2018, following a powerful earthquake and was credited to 'Kyodo via AP Images.'

AP also carried several other images of the tilted building as well.

Screenshot from the AP Newsroom editorial photos featuring the Yun Men Tsui Ti building tilted in Hualien, Taiwan, dated February 10, 2018. (Source: AP Newsroom/Screenshot)

Moreover, AFP and ABC News also published reports and photos of the same building, confirming that the image dates back to the 6.4 magnitude earthquake in February 2018 in Taiwan.

Damaged buildings demolished in 2018

A February 2018 report by the Taipei Times revealed that the Yun Men Tsui Ti building was demolished after the earthquake severely damaged it.

Logically Facts was able to geolocate the building to Guosheng Street in Hualien City. Geolocation data until May 2017 clearly indicates the building's presence at the specified location.

Screenshot captured in 2017 from Google Street View showcasing the Yun Men Tsui Ti building. (Source: Google Maps/Screenshot)

However, recent Google Street View imagery updated in May 2023 reveals the building's absence at the specified location, supporting reports that the damaged structures were demolished after the February 2018 earthquake. The building is notably absent in updated street views from June 2019 onwards and in the May 2023 imagery.

The verdict

The photograph depicting the tilted building showcases the aftermath of an earthquake that struck Taiwan in 2018, not the recent earthquake in April 2024. Therefore, we have marked the claim as misleading.

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before