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Did a plane crash at Kenya’s largest airport as claimed in several photos online? No, it was a drill

IN SHORT: Several videos on social media claim to show photos of a plane crash at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. The port manager says it was an emergency drill.

Several videos posted online claim to show a plane crash at Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

A video posted on TikTok in June 2023 is captioned “JKIA plane crash”. It plays a slideshow of five photos of what appears to be an emergency response to a plane crash. 

One of the photos shows people lying on the grass, seemingly injured.

Another post on Twitter captioned “Plane accident at JKIA” shows what appears to be black smoke in the distance. 

Other posts on Twitter show a plane on fire at the airport, including here and here. One of the tweets reads: “Breaking News! There is plane crash at JKIA Airport in Kenya.” 

Together, the Twitter posts have received thousands of views. 

Located in the capital city of Nairobi, JKIA is one of the busiest airports in East Africa.

Claims of a plane crash at a major regional airport would raise serious concerns. But was there one?


‘It was a drill’ says airport authority

On 31 May 2023, the airport's operator, Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), posted on social media that a plane had experienced an incident while flying over the city and that rescue efforts were underway.

Several media outlets had also reported the incident at JKIA, citing the airport authority’s post.

Various photos are shown alongside the claims of the crash. A reverse image search shows that one of the images is of a 2019 plane explosion at an airport in Russia.

A Google search for a plane crash at JKIA brings up media reports such as this and this, which clarify that the reported incident was an emergency response drill. 

A search of the KAA's social media pages also reveals a statement they issued on the same day, confirming that a full-scale emergency drill was conducted at JKIA.

The statement also says: “The purpose of this exercise was to test and evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of the airport’s emergency response procedures, coordination among various agencies, and the overall readiness of the airport’s personnel.”

KAA often conducts such drills. They are designed to recreate different types of emergencies in order to test and improve emergency response in the event of a real incident. 

The claims that there was an actual plane crash at JKIA, and the photos used to prove it, are false.

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