Media Check

News outlets report earthquake in Japan by sharing old photos

Written by Md Mahfooz Alam

On late Wednesday night, 17 March, a powerful Earthquake of 7.4 magnitudes hit the eastern coast of Japan, killing at least 4 people and injuring over 100 people.

The quake triggered a tsunami warning which was lifted on Thursday after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced “no abnormalities” had been found at any of the country’s nuclear plants.

Several Indian media outlets reported the news about the quake by sharing old photos.

Public Service Broadcaster, DD News, tweeted about the news by posting an old photo of destruction.

(Source: DD News/Twitter/Screenshot)

A journalist with Dainik Bhaskar, Adity Tiwari and digital news outlet, Mojo Story, reported the news of catastrophe by sharing the above photo.

A news magazine, Northeast Today, reported the news on Facebook by sharing an old photo of a derailed train.

(Source: Northeast Today/Facebook/Screenshot)

Zee Bussines also shared a photo of the destruction unrelated to the Earthquake

(Source: Zee Business/Twitter/Screenshot)

FactO Check:

We conducted a reverse image search of the above three photos and found that these photos are not from the recent earthquake in Japan. The photos are old and from different incidents.

Photo 1:

We found the first photo used in an article published on 14 February 2021 in The Japan Times. The photo is indeed from Japan but it is of an earthquake that hit the Tohoku region in 2021.

The description of the photo reads as: “A toppled concrete wall is seen in the town of Kunimi, Fukushima Prefecture on Sunday morning, after a powerful earthquake hit the Tohoku region late Saturday.”

(Source: The Japan Times/Screenshot)

Photo 2:

The second photo is also of an earthquake from Japan that hit in 2004. We found the photo on Getty Images. The description of the photo reads: “Investigators and employees of railway company inspect the Shinkansen bullet train derailed by a 23 October strong earthquake in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture, 24 October 2004. A series of powerful earthquakes including an initial tremor measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, left 23 people dead and injured more than 1,200.”

(Source: Getty Images/Screenshot)

Photo 3:

The third photo is also of an Earthquake that hit Japan in 2016. We found it used in an article published on 17 April 2016 in The New York Times.

The photo is described as: “

(Source: The New York Times/Screenshot)


Therefore, it can be concluded from the above finding that the photos are not of the earthquake that hit Japan on late Wednesday night

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About the author

Md Mahfooz Alam

Mahfooz is a multimedia journalist and regularly writes fact-check stories for Facto News. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. He has worked as an intern fact-checker for The Quint. He specializes in research and fact-checking and aspires to do investigative reporting.

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