Old photos resurface as recent boat tragedy near Greece

By: Toibah Kirmani
June 21 2023

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Old photos resurface as recent boat tragedy near Greece


The Verdict Misleading

These three photos are unrelated to the migrant boat accident that took place off the coast of Greece in June 2023.

Claim ID d987e977


On June 14, 2023, an overcrowded fishing boat sank in the Ionian Sea in international waters near Greece, resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives, mostly Pakistani nationals, according to a CNN report dated June 19, 2023. Pakistan observed a national day of mourning on Monday, June 19, for those who died. “The exact number of people on the boat remains uncertain, but various testimonies suggest it was between 400 and 750 individuals, according to the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR),” as reported by Al Jazeera.

Greek authorities have been heavily criticized for their handling of the tragedy, raising concerns about how European countries perceive migrants. 

Amid this, a Twitter user shared pictures of a sinking boat and individuals attempting to escape. The tweet stated, “More than 300 Pakistani migrants have died in a boat accident in Greece. Witness accounts suggest between 600 and 750 people had been on the fishing boat which capsized on Wednesday morning.” This tweet has been viewed more than one million times and has received 900 retweets at the time of writing. However, this image is unrelated to the June 2023 incident in the Ionian Sea. 

In Fact

We conducted a reverse image search and found that the first image has been used by numerous news reports. However, the earliest known instance of this image can be traced back to a Persian language news report published in September 2014 by Mizan News Agency. However, it was not attributed to a source. We found that the photo was also attached to an article published by Odogwu Media Communication Limited, a Nigerian media outlet, which reported on an incident in the Mediterranean Sea. The incident occurred on August 6, 2015, and involved the tragic capsizing of a boat, resulting in the loss of several migrants' lives. While we were unable to locate the exact origin of the image, its association with the news reports from 2014 and 2015 indicates that it is not a recent photograph.

On analysis, we found that the second and third images, both captured on May 25, 2016, depict people trying to jump into the water as their boat capsized near the Libyan coast. This incident was reported by The Guardian and The Washington Post, and the photos were credited to AP News. We located both images in the AP photo gallery, with the accompanying caption, “In this May 25, 2016 file combo made with pictures made available by the Italian Navy, people try to jump in the water right before their boat overturns off the Libyan coast. Over 700 migrants are feared dead in three Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks south of Italy in the last few days as they tried desperately to reach Europe in unseaworthy smuggling boats, the U.N. refugee agency said Sunday, May 29, 2016. (Italian Navy via AP Photo, file).”

On researching key frames of the video in which people were shown sleeping in an industrial warehouse, we found an Alamy Stock Photo dated June 14, 2023. The photo's caption described it as: "Survivors of a shipwreck sleep in a warehouse at the port in Kalamata town, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of Athens, Wednesday, June 14, 2023. A fishing boat carrying migrants trying to reach Europe capsized and sank off Greece on Wednesday, authorities said, leaving at least 79 dead and many more missing in one of the worst disasters of its kind this year. (AP Photos/Thanassis Stavrakis)". We found a similar video posted by the Associated Press on June 14, 2023, which aligns with the series of events. This shows that the video is recent.

Overall, the three images are from different incidents: the first one has been online since at least 2014, and the second and third ones are from May 2016. The video clip is authentic and depicts survivors of the recent tragedy.


The three photos depicting the recent boat accident in Greece are not recent and are from separate incidents in the past. Therefore, we have marked this claim as misleading. 

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

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