West Philippine Sea

FACT CHECK: Ship sunk in footage is not an illegal Chinese vessel


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FACT CHECK: Ship sunk in footage is not an illegal Chinese vessel
A reverse image search leads to a news report which reveals that the ship in question is an illegal toothfish poaching vessel sunk for unlawful poaching

Claim: An illegal Chinese vessel in the Philippines was blown up, according to a YouTube video uploaded on February 27, 2023.

The title of the video says:  “24 Oras Express China Vessel Sa Pinas Pinasabog Na West Philippine Sea! Vines Breaking News Viral.” (Chinese vessel in the Philippines was blown up in West Philippine Sea!)

The thumbnail of the YouTube video also mentions the claim.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video was posted by a channel with 293,000 subscribers. As of this writing, the video has 74,662 views.

Illegal poaching vessel: A reverse image search on the video’s thumbnail leads to a news report from the Maritime Exclusive, which reveals that the vessel in question is an illegal toothfish poaching vessel called the Viking

In fact, the clip used in the misleading claim is actually edited footage from Euronews, which shows the Viking being sunk by Indonesian authorities for unlawful poaching.

The ship was part of the “Bandit 6” — a group of six fishing vessels that were illegally hunting Patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean. The collaborative efforts of national governments and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society led to the cessation of the group’s illegal activities in 2016.

No news reports: An online search with keywords related to the video will yield no results that substantiate the claim made in the YouTube video. The only reported instance of an altercation between the Philippines and China that led to a sunken fishing vessel was that of the Recto (Reed) Bank incident, where a Chinese vessel rammed into the Filipino fishing boat Gem-Ver in 2019. Miguel Batallones/Rappler.com

Miguel Batallones is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

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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