Disaster Fact Checks

FACT CHECK: No prediction of two earthquakes to hit Bohol


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FACT CHECK: No prediction of two earthquakes to hit Bohol
At present, technological limitations render it impossible to give an accurate prediction of when and where earthquakes will occur

Claim: Self-proclaimed mystic Rudy Baldwin claims that two strong earthquakes will strike the island of Bohol, causing a bridge to collapse. 

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The claim was made by a popular Filipino figure with 4.1 million followers on Facebook. As of writing, the post has garnered 6,800 reactions, 1,100 comments, and 3,300 shares. 

The post, dated November 5, read: “Itong Bohol ay nakita ko sa vision ko na makaranas ng dalawang me kalakasan na lindol. Ang lindol na maranasan ng Bohol, nagbigay ito ng pinsala at mga taga Bohol makaranas kayo ng pagyanig ng karagatan…Me nakita akong tulay ng guguho na naman.”

(In my vision, I saw that Bohol will experience two major earthquakes. The earthquake that Bohol will experience will cause damage and the people will experience tremors in the ocean…I saw that a bridge would collapse again.)

The Facebook post was made on the same day that seismologists recorded a magnitude 1.5 quake west of Sagbayan, Bohol. 

The bottom line: Presently, there is no way for scientists to accurately predict when and where earthquakes will occur, and how strong they will be. Rappler has fact-checked multiple predictions of imminent natural disasters. 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has stated in the past that pinpoint prediction is impossible: “At present, no one has the capacity to determine when an earthquake will strike, at what precise magnitude, and where the strong one will hit.”

Other institutions, such as the United States Geological Survey (USGS), have also debunked earthquake predictions, stating that scientists currently do not know how to accurately predict earthquakes, and they do not expect to do so any time in the foreseeable future. What scientists can do is calculate the probability of earthquakes happening in a specific area within a certain number of years.

Earthquake prediction: According to the USGS, an earthquake prediction must have the following elements: date and time, location, and magnitude of the quake.

The supposed prediction by Baldwin fails to satisfy these criteria, as it merely mentions the general location of the supposed quake and lacks specificity on other necessary details.

Previous fact-checks: Rudy Baldwin, the poster of the claim, has been fact-checked numerous times for dubious claims and predictions for imminent earthquakes, typhoons, and other disasters:

 – Katarina Ruflo/Rappler.com

Katarina Ruflo 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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