Fact Check: No, viral videos of ecological disasters in Japan are not due to Jan 1 earthquake

Viral videos of the tsunami in Japan in 2011 back in circulation.
(Source: Screenshot social media)
(Source: Screenshot social media)

A massive earthquake of 7.2 magnitude hit the coast of central Japan on January 1, 2024 and triggered a major tsunami warning. 

In the wake of the above incident, many social media users shared videos of a tsunami in Japan as footage of the aftermath of the recent earthquakes. Here are two similar videos fact-checked by SouthCheck.

Fact Check 1:

Claim: A social media user shared a video of ships riding large waves and drifting into mainland roads. The video was shared on January 2, 2024, with the caption, “We must stand with the people of Japan, during this tough time in which they are experiencing a Tsunami and earthquake. May God protect the children, mothers, & people of Japan from the Tsunami. (sic)”

Fact: On doing a Google Reverse Image Search, we found the same video uploaded by ABC News on March 14, 2011. The video was shared with the caption, “Unbelievable footage captures the instant the tsunami hit Japan.”

The video was also uploaded by BBC News on March 14, 2011.

Fact Check 2:

Claim: Another horrifying video of a wave of mud washing away houses and people screaming has gone viral on social media.

The video is shared with a caption that reads, “ohhhh...this is very scary, people screaming #earthquake #Japan #JapanEarthquake #สึนามิ  #Terremoto #Tsunami (sic)”

Fact: We found the same video uploaded by a YouTube channel, The Asahi Shimbun Company on August 3, 2021. The description in the video read, “Heavy rains that battered the area since July 1, exacerbated an already precarious situation, resulting in a massive mudslide July 3 that sent torrents of mud, water and debris crashing into homes and buildings in the Izusan district, claiming the lives of two people initially and leaving around 20 others missing.”

The Hindustan Times also posted the video on its YouTube channel on July 5, 2021, with a caption that reads, “A massive landslide ripped through a Japanese seaside resort town on July 3. Mud crashed into rows of houses in Atami after several days of heavy rains. At least 20 people are missing and at least three people were killed as per reports. Witnesses heard a roar and then saw homes swallowed by muddy waves. Around 130 buildings were affected when landslides ripped through the town. Atami is a hot springs resort town on a steep slope that leads down to a bay. Even two days after the landslide, rescue workers continued combing through the debris. Watch the full video for more.”

Hence, we can ascertain that the old videos of ecological disasters in Japan are resurfacing in the aftermath of the recent earthquake in Japan.

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