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Fact Check: Viral video claiming to be buildings collapsing after Taiwan earthquake is FAKE! Here's the truth

Wednesday's earthquake, the most significant in Taiwan in at least 25 years, claimed the lives of nine individuals and left over 900 injured. Additionally, 50 workers who were en route to a hotel in a national park remain unaccounted for.

Fact Check: Viral video claiming to be buildings collapsing after Taiwan earthquake is FAKE! Here's the truth snt
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First Published Apr 3, 2024, 8:34 PM IST

Wednesday's earthquake, the most significant in Taiwan in at least 25 years, claimed the lives of nine individuals and left over 900 injured. Additionally, 50 workers who were en route to a hotel in a national park remain unaccounted for.

In the mountainous and thinly populated Hualien county, near the epicenter of the 7.2 magnitude quake, several buildings leaned at precarious angles. The seismic event, which occurred just offshore around 8 a.m. (0000 GMT), resulted in extensive landslides.

Also read: Explained: What is 'Ring of Fire', the phenomenon behind Taiwan's strongest earthquake in 25 years?

Striking at a depth of 15.5 km (9.6 miles), the earthquake occurred during the morning rush as people were commuting to work and school. The seismic activity prompted a tsunami warning for southern Japan and the Philippines, though it was eventually rescinded.

Footage captured rescuers employing ladders to assist individuals trapped in buildings to safety through windows. Intense tremors in Taipei led to a temporary closure of the subway system, although service on most lines resumed shortly after. Fire authorities reported evacuating approximately 70 individuals trapped in tunnels near Hualien city, including two Germans.

Numerous dramatic videos depicted buildings crumbling under the force of the strong tremors, suspension lines on a bridge trembling, and dramatic landslides triggered by the earthquake.

Among these, a viral video purportedly from Taiwan showcased the dramatic collapse of skyscrapers. Social media users have widely shared this footage, showing multiple buildings collapsing into rubble.

What is the truth?

The claim that the viral video is from Taiwan earthquake is false as the incident is from Kunming in China where fifteen high-rise buildings were demolished.

Asianet Newsable divided the viral video into key frames and ran a Google reverse image search on some of them. Our investigation directed us to several older TikTok videos. One of the TikTok videos displayed the caption "15 buildings demolished in Kunming, China" and was uploaded on August 16. (The year was not specified by TikTok).

Through relevant keyword searches, we discovered news reports discussing the demolition of the fifteen high rises in Kunming.

According to a report by The Paper, the fifteen buildings that were demolished on August 21, 2021, had remained "unfinished for seven years before being demolished." These structures were part of the second phase of Liyang Star City in Kunming.

Also read: Strongest earthquake in 25 years hits Taiwan: WATCH dramatic videos of buildings collapsing, landslides & more

Conclusion

While we could not get an independent verification of the date of the incident, we could confirm that the video is from China and it predates Wednesday's Taiwan earthquake.

According to the official central news agency, today's earthquake is the most significant since a magnitude 7.6 tremor in 1999, which claimed approximately 2,400 lives and caused damage to around 50,000 buildings.

Taiwan's meteorological authorities classified Wednesday's quake in Hualien as "Upper 6" on a scale from 1 to 7, signifying the second-highest level of intensity. 

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