A photo of a huge crater in the ground is circulating in Chinese-language social media posts falsely linking it to a train explosion in the US state of Ohio on February 3, 2023. The photo was actually taken after a massive deadly blast that shook the Chinese port city of Tianjin on August 15, 2015.
“The government blocked the news following the significant explosion in Ohio,” reads a Chinese-language tweet posted on February 14, 2023.
“Such a big story can’t make the headlines, so you are not Chinese if you are not reposting it!”
The tweet, which has been shared more than 500 times, shows smoke rising from a huge crater in the ground, which is surrounded by high-rise buildings.
Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on February 17, 2023
A cargo train derailed in the midwestern United States, near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state border, on February 3, 2023, sparking a massive fire and triggering the release of small amounts of vinyl chloride, a hazardous chemical.
No injuries or fatalities were reported after around 50 cars of the 140-car train came off the tracks.
The photo appeared alongside a similar claim in Chinese-language posts on Twitter, Facebook and Weibo.
A reverse image search on Google found the photo was published by European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) on August 15, 2015.
The photo’s caption partly says: “An aerial view of a large hole in the ground in the aftermath of a huge explosion that rocked the port city of Tianjin, China”.
It also says that the photo was taken on August 15, 2015 — three days after the deadly disaster in the Chinese city.
At least 165 people were killed in giant chemical blasts at a container storage facility in Tianjin on August 12, 2015 — one of China’s worst-ever industrial accidents, AFP reported.
The explosions caused more than $1 billion in damage and sparked widespread anger at a perceived lack of transparency over the accident’s causes and its environmental impact.
The EPA photo was also published in various news reports about the Tianjin tragedy, including by The New York Times and the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
The same photo was previously falsely linked to a massive explosion that ripped through Beirut in August 2020.