Fake News Amidst Kerala Floods Disaster, 2018


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Image about Fake News Amidst Kerala Floods Disaster, 2018
Fake News Amidst Kerala Floods Disaster, 2018

Story:

In July and August 2018 extremely high monsoon rains in Kerala caused devastating floods, also triggering landslides in some areas. The natural disaster took the lives of more than 350 people and rescue operations are going on as of this writing. Unfortunately, the internet space on social media sites has witnessed some fake news amidst Kerala floods disaster.

Facts Analysis:

Explained below are few popular fake news spreading on social media sites and WhatsApp. Sharing them shall spread unnecessary panic among the victims in Kerala, their relatives and others concerned.

Army Officer Slamming Kerala Chief Minister

A video that went viral claims to show a man dressed in Indian Army combat uniform slamming the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He complains that the CM has stopped the Army from conducting rescue operations in the flood-hit Kerala regions. Consequently, the fake story in video was shared thousands of times on social media and WhatsApp groups before Indian Army hit back at the “imposter”.

On Twitter page, Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Indian Army clarified the imposter wearing Army combat uniform in video is spreading disinformation about rescue & relief efforts.

Audio Warning Mullaperiyar Dam Collapsing

A short clip circulating on social media warns people that the Mullaperiyar Dam on Periyar River of Kerala is developed cracks and leaking after heavy flooding. Allegedly, the Mullaperiyar dam will collapse and the Ernakulam area will drown within three hours. Additionally, the man in the audio says the information is coming from a friend in the Prime Minister’s Office. He also asks people to leave the area as soon as possible along with family and friends.

Image of Mullaperiyar Dam in Kerala
Mullaperiyar Dam in Kerala

Unfortunately, again, the audio message created panic among local people. Kerala Government intervened and clarified that the audio message warning is fake. Kerala Police also issued a warning that legal action will be taken against people spreading such false, panic messages.

Video of Deer Floating in Kerala Flood Water

Another interesting and disturbing video in wide circulation purports to show Deer Floating in Kerala Flood Water. The video appeared with captions like “extremely shocking scene” and “deer in Kerala floods”. Allegedly, the incident happened in Wayanad area of Kerala or Nilambur, which saw record-breaking rainfall, floods and fatal landslides.

The fact of the matter, however, is the video actually shows floodwaters of Kharkhari river in Ganjam district of Orissa, not Kerala. The incident happened earlier in July 2018 when a herd of around 50 Blackbuck (Indian antelope) and deer got swept away in the water flow. The video shared on social media raised concerns also because Blackbuck is an endangered species of the Indian Deer. However, like the end of the second video below suggests, the many of the deer managed to find dry ground on their own and escape. Then again forest officials and local people gave safe passage to the rest of the stranded animals and helped them reach dry land.

Image of The Deers Escaping from Orissa flood waters, on their Own
The Deers Escaping from Orissa flood waters, on their Own

Above all are some of the fake news amidst Kerala floods disaster that struck the South Indian state in July-August 2018. A calamity of that size happened after 100 years in Kerala, which is suffering tremendous financial and human loss. Spreading such fake news amidst Kerala floods disaster situation will not only create panic among victims; it will also discourage the people helping them.

References:

Kerala battles fake news along with floods
Kerala floods: Fake news ‘creating unnecessary panic’


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Prashanth Damarla
Debunker

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