Overturned cars in Ukraine were likely flipped by Russian forces, not explosion

28 April 2022
What was claimed

A photo from Ukraine shows several cars have been flipped over by the explosion of a Russian bomb, yet the building behind them looks completely undamaged, which is inconsistent with an explosion.

Our verdict

These cars were probably not flipped over by an explosion. Eyewitnesses report that Russian forces overturned cars with tanks.

Warning: many of the articles and posts linked to below include extremely graphic images.

A number of posts on Facebook show an image from Ukraine of a soldier and some children walking past upturned cars, and a building in the background with intact windows and little visible damage. 

All these posts have the caption: “I would like to place an order for these high quality super tough windows from the Ukraine, that remained intact and unmarked after the explosion of a Russian bomb that turned over all of these cars. Please throw in also some of that same render as on the house, that remained undamaged and clean after the explosion.”One post has an additional caption which says: “Looks like staged [sic]”.

These posts lack context, as it’s likely the cars were not overturned in an explosion, but were instead upended by Russian forces for a variety of reasons. 

The photo is genuine

The picture in question was taken by Rodrigo Abd for the Associated Press. The caption alongside it says: “A Ukrainian soldier walks with children passing destroyed cars due to the war against Russia, in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, April 4, 2022. Local authorities told The Associated Press that at least 16 children were among the hundreds of people killed in Bucha.”

Nowhere in the caption does the photographer claim an explosion took place.

We do know that there was heavy fighting in Bucha for weeks while Russian forces occupied the town and that despite Russian claims to the contrary, evidence shows civilians in the town were tortured and killed.

The cars were likely flipped manually by Russian forces, not an explosion 

Greek fact checker Ellinika Hoaxes spoke to a photographer for the Wall Street Journal who told them citizens in Bucha had said the Russians overturned cars with tanks. This may have been to stop people escaping, to make way for larger vehicles, or to create roadblocks.

Ellinika Hoaxes also spoke to a local resident in Bucha who took photos and videos of the same area that is pictured on Facebook throughout the occupation, and told them the Russians appeared to overturn cars in order to hide military equipment. 

Other photos of the town in the aftermath also show upturned cars in front of damaged buildings.

All evidence points to Russian forces committing atrocities in Bucha

Despite Russian claims that footage of Bucha has been faked, evidence from drones, satellite images, photos taken in the aftermath and first person accounts shows that Russian forces did occupy the town when Ukrainian officials said they had, and bodies of civilians appeared on the streets while they were there, not afterwards when Ukrainian forces secured the town.

Image courtesy of Oleksandr Ratushniak.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because the cars were likely overturned by Russian forces, not because of an explosion, which is why the building behind it looks undamaged.

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