Video of Indian air force helicopter rescuing people from floods has circulated since 2021

·2 min read

As states across India were hit by heavy rain and flooding, multiple media outlets in the South Asian nation aired a video they claimed shows an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter rescuing flood victims trapped in a river in Telangana. However, the video has been shared in a false context: it has circulated since November 2021 in reports about a rescue operation in the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh. A spokesperson for the IAF also told AFP that the footage shows a rescue in 2021.

"An #IAFchopper air lifted two #shepherds stranded in the overflowing #Godavari river on the outskirts of #Somanpallivillage in #Chennur mandal on Thursday," reads the caption of a 30-second video shared here on Facebook on July 14, 2022.

The video -- which has been viewed more than 2,700 times -- shows a person, who appears to be stranded on top of a bulldozer on a flooded river, being winched up into a helicopter.

It was shared after heavy rainfall and flooding hit several Indian states, including Telangana.

The central government sent soldiers, medical personnel and engineers to help with rescue operations in the state along the flooded Godavari river, according to local broadsheet The New Indian Express.

A screenshot of the misleading post, captured on July 22, 2022

There were reports in Indian media here and here in July about farmers being rescued from the flooded Godavari river in Telangana, but AFP found no official footage of those rescue operations.

The video in the misleading post was published by multiple Indian media outlets here, here, here and here alongside a similar claim.

The clip, however, has been shared in a false context.

Andhra Pradesh rescue

A keyword search found a longer version of the video in a Facebook post from November 2021.

The caption of the two-minute 19-second video reads: "Anantapur: Air Force's rescue operation amid heavy floods Andhra Pradesh."

The first 30 seconds of this video correspond to the clip being circulated online alongside the false claim.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video used in the false post (left)) and the video that circulated in November 2021 (right):

The video was also published on YouTube here on November 20, 2021.

According to reports by India-based English-language newspapers The Hindu and the Hindustan Times from November 2021, the IAF helicopter rescued ten people from the Chitravati river in the Ananthapur district of Andhra Pradesh state.

A one-minute 13-second video posted on Twitter here by the IAF appears to show the rescue operation from a different angle.

IAF spokesperson Ashish Moghe told AFP the video circulating alongside the false claim shows the same rescue operation that the air force tweeted about in November 2021.

He said the videos were captured from different banks of the same river, "but as you can see, there is a yellow bulldozer stuck in the middle of the river."

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