This video has circulated since 2021 in reports of a fire at the Afghanistan-Iran border

·3 min read

Social media users have shared a video they claim shows a fire that broke out at a Pakistani power plant in July 2022. However, the video -- viewed tens of thousands of times -- has been shared in a false context; it has circulated since 2021 in reports about a blaze at Afghanistan's largest trade crossing with Iran, which destroyed hundreds of oil and gas tankers and caused millions of dollars of damage.

The video has been viewed more than 31,000 times since it was shared here on Twitter on July 14, 2022.

The 23-second clip appears to show thick plumes of black smoke and several fires raging in the distance, before an explosion sends a huge fireball into the sky.

"Fire incidents have started once again under the Shehbaz government," reads the Urdu-language tweet.

"According to sources, the fire at the Guddu power plant has caused a loss of up to 15 billion rupees to the national treasury."

Screenshot of the false post, taken on July 20, 2022

The video circulated after a fire broke out at Pakistan's Guddu Power Plant on July 10 causing billions of rupees of damage, local outlet The Express Tribune reported.

The tweet also criticises the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who came to power in April after a parliamentary no-confidence vote removed his predecessor, Imran Khan.

The video was viewed over 10,000 times in similar posts on Twitter here, here, here and here; on Facebook here, here and here; and on YouTube here and here.

However, the video does not show the fire at the Guddu Power Plant.

Afghanistan fire

A reverse image search followed by a keyword search led to this report published on Facebook by BBC Dari, the British broadcaster's Afghan news service, on February 18, 2021.

Ten seconds from the clip were used at the beginning of the BBC report.

Below is a screenshot comparison of frames from the video in the false post (left) and from the video by the BBC (right):

"The head of the Herat Chamber of Commerce and Investment says that Afghanistan's largest commercial crossing has been closed after the fire at Islam Qala Customs," the Persian-language caption reads in part.

A screenshot that corresponds to the three-second mark of the video was also shared in this tweet by Pajhwok Afghan News on February 13, 2021.

The fire destroyed hundreds of oil and gas tankers, causing millions of dollars of losses. AFP published footage of the aftermath on YouTube here on February 15, 2021.

A further keyword search found the full 23-second video posted on Twitter here on February 13, 2021 by Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary.

"#AFG fuel tankers exploding. Investors losing their money in a matter of seconds. Financial tragedy on the Afghan - Iran border. No one knows what started the fire. No reports of casualties or fatalities at this stage. Video shared with me," the tweet reads.

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