Old video of boy pulled from river in Bangladesh mispresented amid India floods

·2 min read

Footage of men on a boat rushing to save a drowning boy is circulating in posts claiming it shows a dramatic rescue on India's Chambal river. The posts, which racked up tens of thousands of views, circulated as heavy rain sparked deadly flooding in India in August 2022. However, the video was actually filmed in Bangladesh and has circulated online since August 2021.

"It's just like a movie scene!" reads a Hindi-language tweet shared on August 25.

"This child was drowning in the Chambal river. Crocodiles were behind him. The rescue team arrived just in time and dragged the boy to safety. Salute! Long live India."

The footage, which attracted more than 100,000 views, shows a boy crying for help as he struggles to stay afloat. A dark-coloured object can be seen in the water next to him.

He is saved when a group of men arrive on a boat and pull him aboard.

Screenshot of a tweet sharing the false claim, taken on August 29, 2022

The video circulated as heavy rains lashed Rajasthan in northern India in August 2022, causing floods in which two people were killed and two more declared missing.

The rain pushed water levels on the Chambal river to their highest in two decades.

The clip was shared in news reports and posts on Facebook and Twitter linking it to the deadly floods. Several Indian media outlets published the footage in August without specifying where it was filmed, including here, here and here.

However, the clip shows old footage filmed in Bangladesh.

Video from Bangladesh

A reverse image search and keyword searches on Google found a longer version of the video in a Facebook post from August 30, 2021, which said it showed a boy rescued from the Chandpur district in Bangladesh.

"A child has been saved from certain death by falling into a cyclone in an estuary in Chandpur," the Bengali-language Facebook post reads.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in false posts (top) and in a Facebook post from 2021 (bottom).

Screenshot comparison of the video in false posts (top) and in a Facebook post from 2021 (bottom)

An AFP journalist in Dhaka said people in the video were speaking Bengali, the official language of Bangladesh.

A man is heard saying "pick him up, pick him up", while another says: "See how dangerous the Chandpur estuary is".

The footage was also posted in an earlier YouTube video from August 27, 2021, which also said the rescue happened in Chandpur.

Local media outlets reported on the boy's rescue here and here. They did not mention a crocodile.

AFP previously debunked posts that falsely claimed the video showed a boy rescued from a ferry that capsized in Sri Lanka in November 2021.