Fact Check: 11-year-old plane crash photo shared on social media in name of Pokhara crash

08:26 PM Jan 16, 2023 | PTI |

An old photograph of an airplane crash was shared on several news reports and social media posts, claiming it to be that of Yeti Airlines’ 9N-ANC ATR-72 aircraft that crashed in Nepal’s Pokhara, killing 68 people on Sunday. The PTI Fact Check team investigated the source of the photograph and found it to be from a plane crash that occurred in Kathmandu in September 2012. News reports and social media posts linked the 11-year-old photograph to the Pokhara crash. At least 69 people were killed when the passenger plane with 72 people, including five Indians, on board crashed into a river gorge while landing at the newly-opened airport in central Nepal’s resort city of Pokhara in the Himalayan nation’s deadliest aviation accident in over 30 years.


The Yeti Airlines’ aircraft took off from Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport at 10.33 am for the 25-minute journey. It crashed on the banks of the Seti river between the old airport and the new one in Pokhara, minutes before landing. All 72 people on board are believed to be dead. Forty-one of the 69 bodies recovered so far have been identified.

Shortly after the accident, social media platforms and news websites splashed photographs and videos of the crash. The PTI Fact Check team came across one such image of a crashed plane and found it not related to the place where the Yeti Airlines’ plane crashed.

The team started its investigation with a Google Reverse Image search and noticed that the same picture was tweeted by a news agency and a few news websites in their reports on the Pokhara crash.

After a customised search in Google to find the source of the image, it was found that the same photograph was used by the International Business Times for a plane crash report published in February 2014.


While scanning the report, the team noticed that the photograph in the report was credited to Reuters while the caption called it a ‘Representational Image.’ Now, the PTI Fact Check team did a Google search with the keywords ”Nepal plane crash, Reuters”. The search results led to a report by Alamy, a website for stock photographs, that showed the same image with the caption, ”A Nepalese police officer stands in front of the wreckage of a Dornier aircraft, owned by private firm Sita Air, at the crash site in Kathmandu September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar.” It was found that the same photograph was used in a Reuters report on its Kathmandu aircraft crash report published on September 28, 2012.

The report’s headline, a slideshow with 15 photos, read, ”Nepal air crash.” The photograph widely circulated on Sunday, claiming to be of the Pokhara crash, was of another accident that occurred in Kathmandu in September 2012. The social media posts and news reports sharing the 11-year-old image on the Pokhara crash were found to be misleading.

Readers can contact the PTI Fact Check team on the WhatsApp Number +91-8130503759 to share a claim or social media post they think needs to be fact-checked.


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