Leaning tower block hit by Taiwan earthquake in 2018, not 2022

·2 min read

A photo of a tower leaning dramatically is circulating in posts claiming it shows the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that struck Taiwan on September 18, 2022. However, the photo is old. It was taken after a quake that hit the island in February 2018, killing 17 people, including 14 inside the tower block.

"A 6.8-magnitude earthquake shook Taitung county in the southeast of Taiwan at 2:45 PM Taiwanese time," reads a Burmese-language Facebook post shared on a page with more than 30,000 followers.

"There were reports of building collapsing and casualties in Yuli of Hualian county, but the official numbers haven't been confirmed yet."

The post was published on September 19, one day after a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Taiwan, tearing up roads and bringing down a handful of houses in the town of Yuli where at least one person was killed. 

A less powerful jolt hit the same region the day before, with local media reporting no injuries or damage.

Taiwan is regularly hit by earthquakes as the island lies near the junction of two tectonic plates.

Screenshot of the false post, taken on September 19, 2022

The photo was shared in similar Facebook posts here and here and on Twitter hereand here.

However, the photo was shared in false context.

2018 quake

A reverse image search and keyword search on Google showed the photo was taken after an earthquake struck Hualien, a popular tourist city in Taiwan in February 2018.

Taiwan News published various photos of the tower in an article on February 7, 2018 reporting that the quake had killed 17 people and injured more than 290.

Photo credits identify the building as the Yun Tsui apartment building, and credit the image to Taiwan's state-run Central News Agency (CNA).

A photo of the apartment block in an article by Taiwan News from February 7, 2018

AFP also published a photo of the building, taken on February 8, 2018.

The photo caption reads: "Taiwanese rescuers continued the terrifying task on February 8 of searching for survivors in a dangerously leaning apartment block that was partially toppled by an earthquake."

A photo of the apartment block taken by AFP ( AFP / ANTHONY WALLACE)

A total of 17 people died across the eastern coastal city, 14 of them in the Yun Tsui building.

The building's developer, architect and a civil engineer were each jailed for five years in 2019 for neglecting building safety codes.

The tower was later demolished, footage from Taiwan's Apple Daily shows.

AFP previously debunked posts misrepresenting the same photo.