FALSE: Photos of ‘whirlwind, tornado’ in Cotabato after earthquakes


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FALSE: Photos of ‘whirlwind, tornado’ in Cotabato after earthquakes
The photos are from Mexico, not the Philippines

Claim: On October 29, Facebook user Armscor Shooter posted photos that were supposedly taken in Dungo-an after the second earthquake that hit parts of Mindanao that month. Dungo-an is a barangay in the province of Cotabato.

The post included photos of a whirlwind, an ominous cloud formation taking the form of several dragon heads, and a tornado. Armscor Shooter captioned his post “Allahu akbar eto ang resulta Ng linog kaninang umaga sa bray Dungoan.” (God is the greatest! This is the result of the earthquake earlier this morning in Barangay Dungo-an.)

The post has gotten over 2,700 shares, 220 reactions, and 56 comments as of writing. Facebook Claim Check, the social media network’s dashboard tool that identifies suspicious posts across the platform, flagged the post for fact checking.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: The photos of the sky posted by Armscor Shooter were not taken in Dungo-an, or anywhere in the Philippines. The photos did not show the “result” of any of the 3 strong earthquakes that struck Cotabato last October.

Using reverse image search, Rappler found that all 3 photos originated from Mexico. The earliest versions of these photos date back to 2014 and 2015.

El Universal, a major newspaper in Mexico, published articles that show two of the photos uploaded by Armscor Shooter. The first one showing a tornado can be found in a 2014 article titled “Whirlwind damages houses and throws trees in Chiapas.”

The other image showing a tornado was in a 2015 article titled “Alerts for possible tornadoes in Tamaulipas.” El Universal credited Notimex, the Mexican government’s official news agency, for the photo.

Meanwhile, the image showing a cloud formation of dragon heads was tagged as a hoax by Red Latinoamericana de Cultura Cientifica, also known as the Latin American Network of Scientific Culture, back in 2015. The organization said the photo was manipulated by overlaying digital art fantasy wallpaper on a photo of the port of Veracruz in Mexico.

Though the photos posted by Armscor Shooter were not taken anywhere near Dungo-an, the province of Cotabato and neighboring areas in Mindanao were struck by a series of earthquakes in October 2019. (READ: FAST FACTS: The destructive earthquakes that hit Mindanao)

Cotabato, particularly the municipality of Tulunan, was devastated by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake on October 16, a magnitude 6.6 quake on October 29, and another magnitude 6.5 tremor on October 31. There was also a magnitude 6.1 aftershock that hit the same area on October 29. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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