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Old photos passed off as New Year quake in Japan

A Philippine-based Facebook page has misused images of disaster events in 2011 and 2016 to depict the aftermath of the 7.6-magnitude earthquake that jolted western Japan last Jan. 1. 

The page Negros the Green Island, which typically shares Negros island updates and local news, posted a photoset on Jan. 2 with the caption: 

NEW YEAR TSUNAMI. EARTHQUAKE. PLANE FIRE! Lahat ng ito ay nangngayong bagong taon (Japan Local time and date)  January 1, 2024 sa Japan at  Plane fire January 2, 2024. 7.5 magnitude na lindol tumama sa Japan ngayong Bagong taon, Lunes ng hapon. Gumuho ang mga gusali, sunog at nagdulot ng tsunami habang kasalukuyang Nasusunog ang Japan Airlines matapos bumangga sa relief plane sa Tokyo Haneda airport ( January 2, 2024). Umakyat na sa 48 ang bilang ng mga nasawi sa Lindol at Tsunami. PRAY FOR JAPAN!
(NEW YEAR TSUNAMI. EARTHQUAKE. PLANE FIRE! All these happened at the start of the new year [Japan Local time and date] January 1, 2024 in Japan and Plane fire January 2, 2024. A 7.5 Magnitude earthquake rocked Japan New Year’s Eve, Monday afternoon. The quake caused fires, tsunamis and damage to buildings, while a Japan Airlines aircraft is still on fire after colliding with a relief plane at Tokyo Haneda Airport [January 2, 2024]. The death toll for both  tsunami and earthquake increased to 48. PRAY FOR JAPAN!)

Reverse image searches revealed that five of the 12 photos were taken during past earthquake and tsunami events in Japan rather than the recent quake.

One photo showing cars crushed by a collapsed wall was taken on March 11, 2011 in the aftermath of the magnitude 9 earthquake in Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture. It was shot by a stringer of Jiji Press, contributed to Agence France Presse (AFP) and is available on Getty Images. 

The earthquake, one of the most powerful recorded globally and the strongest in Japan, triggered devastating tsunamis and killed around 20,000 people.

The photo was also posted that day by the Facebook page JSTV and recycled in a post by Facebook page Our Japan and an X tweet by @Haaland_sholla.

Meanwhile, a image showing the aftermath of a tsunami was from the European Pressphoto Agency and snapped on March. 12, 2011 after tsunami waves devastated Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, a coastal town near the quake's epicenter.

The third photo showing a debris-surrounded house was taken March 17, 2011 by Kazuhiro Nogi of AFP who documented the the impact of the “Great East Japan Earthquake” in Iwate Prefecture. The temblor resulted in at least 18,500 dead or missing and a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant.

A picture of residents walking past a rubble-strewn road was also not taken this year, but on April 15, 2016 by Yu Nakajima for the Associated Press when a 7.3-magnitude rocked Kumamoto Prefecture in southern Japan.

Negros the Green Island also misused the photo of Yusuke Ogata for Kyodo News of collapsed houses following the earthquake in Kumamoto Prefecture, which The Guardian, among others, published on April 16, 2016. The earthquake caused landslides, disrupted water and gas supplies, and left almost 3,300 casualties.

The Jan. 1 quake that shook western Japan left 78 dead and prompted the Japan Meteorological Agency to issue the first major tsunami warning since 2011. 

As of writing, the misleading post has amassed 280 reactions, 32 comments, and 156 shares. The page was created on Sept. 30, 2017 and has over 69,000 likes and 92,000 followers. (KJO, ER) 


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