Video of Indonesian gas station blaze falsely shared as ‘fire sparked by mob because of rising fuel prices’

·3 min read

  

A video has been viewed more than a million times in posts that claim it shows a gas station in the Indonesian province of East Java that was burned down by a mob following the government's decision to raise fuel prices. This is false. According to the local fire brigade, it actually shows a fire at a gas station in the province that was caused by a fuel tank leak.

"A gas station in Tuban was burnt down by a mob as soon as fuel prices increased," reads  Indonesian-language title of the video posted on YouTube on on September 4, 2022.

The 16-second video, captured from inside a moving vehicle, shows a gas station covered in white smoke.

The footage has been viewed more than 860 times.

A location name pinned at the top of the video reads "Singgahan" -- a district in Tuban regency, Indonesia's East Java province.

Screenshot of the misleading post taken on September 16, 2022

The claim circulated online a day after the Indonesian government announced it would raise the price of fuel, a move which President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo defended as his "last option" to rein in ballooning subsidies.

Demonstrations have been held in several cities across the nation following the announcement.

The video has garnered more than a million views after it was shared alongside a similar claim on YouTube here and here, on Twitter here and here, on TikTok here and on video-sharing platform Snack Video here.

The claim, however, is false.

Accidental fire

A keyword search found the clip appeared in this news report, published by Indonesian media outlet Surya Daily on its YouTube channel on September 4, 2022.

In the Surya Daily footage, several gas station workers wearing red uniforms can also be seen surrounding a car while spraying it with a fire extinguisher.

The video's narrator can be heard saying, "A pickup car caught fire at a gas station in Laju Lor village, Singgahan district, on September 3, 2022, at around 2 pm."

According to the post's description, the pickup car's fuel tank leaked as it was filled with petrol, causing a small fire.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the Surya Daily video (right): 

Screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the Surya Daily video (right)

The Tuban Fire Department chief Sutaji confirmed to AFP that the video shows the fire at a gas station caused by a fuel tank leak in Laju Lor village, Singgahan district, on September 3, 2022.

He said: "The leak caused a small spark. The fire was put off immediately with fire extinguishers by gas station staff.

"The white smoke that you see in the video was not from the fire, but from the fire extinguishers."

Location of gas station

Using visual clues in the video, AFP found it was filmed at Podang Gas Station in Tuban.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the Google Street View imagery (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the Google Street View imagery (right)

As of September 16, 2022,  there have been no official reports of vandalism at gas stations in Tuban by mobs.