Viral video shows floods in Saudi Arabia, not Libya

21 September 2023
What was claimed

A video shows the recent fatal floods in Derna, Libya.

Our verdict

The video actually shows scenes from Saudi Arabia and has appeared online since at least 2015.

Multiple online posts have falsely connected a video from Saudi Arabia to recent floods in Derna, Libya. 

The video shows a wave of brown water suddenly flooding what appears to be a dried riverbed and overflowing onto a bridge. However, this video is not from recent events in Derna, but actually shows flooding several years ago in Saudi Arabia. 

The video has tens of thousands of views on X (formerly Twitter) and one post claims it shows the  “moment of flood hits Derma in Libya [sic]”. 

It was also shared on Facebook by two news organisations in India—The Darjeeling Chronicle and Sikkim Voice—with a caption describing how “a massive flood ripped through the city of Derna following a heavy storm and rain”. One post has more than 10,000 views. 

Sikkim Voice deleted the video after being contacted by Full Fact. We will update this article if we receive a response from The Darjeeling Chronicle. 

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Where the video comes from

The earliest version of the video Full Fact could find appeared on an Iranian video website in April 2015 which said it shows  a “terrible flood in Saudi Arabia”. 

Another version of the video was posted on Facebook by two media accounts on 8 April 2016, which also located the footage in Saudi Arabia. One post says: “A torrent from Wadi Al-Farsha in Tihama Qahtan blocks the road for cars and pedestrians” (translated using Google Translate). Wadi Al-Farsha is in the south west of Saudi Arabia. The video also appeared on two YouTube channels that same day. 

The fatal flooding that hit Libya took place earlier this month. 

Heavy rainfall from Storm Daniel caused two dams to burst leading to a tsunami-like flood sweeping through the city of Derna on 10 September. Estimates of the death toll have varied widely. While the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) at one stage reported 11,300 deaths, it has since cited the World Health Organisation’s figure of around 4,000 people with more than 9,000 still missing. 

We’ve also observed images and videos being falsely linked to other large-scale news events, such as the recent earthquake in Morocco, wildfires in Maui and riots in France, among others

Misinformation like this can spread quickly online and it’s important to consider whether a post shows what it claims before sharing it online. You can read more about identifying misleading images and videos using our guides here and here.   

Image courtesy of Abdul-Jawad Elhusuni (عبدالجواد الحسوني)

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