Photo shows fire at government building in Indonesia, not Koranic school in Liberia

·2 min read

A photo has been shared in Indonesian blog articles that claim it shows a deadly fire at a Koranic school in the Liberian capital Monrovia. However, the claim is false: it shows a fire at a government building in Melawi, a regency in Indonesia.

The photo appeared in this Indonesian-language blog post, dated March 29, 2022.

Its headline translates to English as: "Verily to Allah We Belong and to Allah We Shall Return. Please accept our condolences. Fire Engulfs Koranic Boarding School, Killing 26 Students and Two Teachers."

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on April 21, 2022

The blog post reads in part: "A deadly fire took place at a Koranic boarding school near Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, on early Wednesday.

"As quoted by AFP, the Liberian Presidential Office stated that at least 26 pupils and two teachers were killed in the incident, which started on late Tuesday night and went on until early Wednesday.

"Liberian President George Weah, a former AC Milan football player, had visited the disaster location in Paynesville, according to presidential spokesman Solo Kelgbeh."

George Weah is the current president of Liberia.

The photo was also posted in other blog articles here, here and here, alongside a similar claim.

The claim, however, is false.

A reverse image search on Google found that the photo appeared in this report by Indonesian news outlet Tribunnews, dated November 19, 2016.

The headline reads: "BREAKING NEWS: Melawi Regent's Office Destroyed by Fire."

Melawi regency is located in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province.

The photo's caption reads: "The blaze that destroyed Melawi regent's office, Saturday, November 19, 2016, around 5 am. The cause of the incident is still unknown."

Below is a screenshot comparison between the photo in the misleading post (L) and the Tribunnews photo (R):

Screenshot comparison between the photo in the misleading post (L) and the Tribunnews photo (R)

The incident was also captured in this video report from Indonesian broadcaster Metro TV, published by its sister media outlet Medcom on November 19, 2016 .

At the 0:14 mark, the Metro TV footage shows identical elements as seen in the Tribunnews photo.

According to both Tribunnews and Metro TV reports, there were no casualties in the fire.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the photo in the misleading post (L) and the Metro TV video (R), with identical features marked by AFP:

Screenshot comparison between the photo in the misleading post (L) and the Metro TV video (R)

The details of the incident described in the misleading blog posts appear to relate to a fire at a Liberian Koranic school in September 2019, which killed at least 26 pupils and two teachers, as reported by AFP here.

AFP Fact Check previously debunked a false claim about the the Liberian Koranic school blaze, which misused another Indonesian photo.

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