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Does this video show an earthquake in a Kenyan town? No, it’s a video effect

IN SHORT: A video posted online purports to show an earthquake in a Kenyan town. But it is just ordinary footage of a town with a wavy video editing effect applied to it.

A video posted on TikTok on 29 April 2023 claims to show an earthquake taking place in Kitengela, a Kenyan town located about 30 kilometres south of the capital Nairobi. 

The scene has been captured from what appears to be the top floor of a tall apartment building during daytime on a cloudy day. 

The footage is about 15 seconds long and begins by focusing on the left side, where it zooms in on a three-storey apartment building a short distance away.

Just before this, a flat roof can be seen, belonging to what appears to be a one-storey apartment building. Clothes on lines blow in the breeze. 

Suddenly, a wave-like effect appears, starting at the top of the frame and moving downwards. The camera then pans to the right, taking in a wider view of the town, showing residential buildings. At this point, the wave effect moves from bottom to top.

Throughout the footage, a sense of urgency is conveyed by panicked-sounding voices heard in the background. The voices are in a local language.

The video is captioned: “Dangerous earthquake in Kitengela yesterday night 21:45 pm.” It has received over 13,000 likes, 1,200 comments and 1,700 shares.

KenyaEarthquake_False

Earthquakes and tremors

An earthquake is a shaking of the earth’s surface caused by a sudden release of the energy in the earth’s crust. A tremor, on the other hand, is a much smaller, continuous shaking movement of the earth’s surface, which can also occur as an aftershock of an earthquake. Very small earthquakes can also be considered tremors. 

According to earthquakelist.org, a website that aggregates earthquake data from trusted sources, Kenya averages about two low-magnitude earthquakes per year. These earthquakes have been small and have not caused significant damage. 

Some of the stronger tremors felt in Kenya were caused by a moderate earthquake that occurred in Tanzania on 12 August 2020.

This claim on TikTok of an earthquake in Kitengela was posted a day after tremors were reported in various parts of the country. 

But does this video show an earthquake happening in Kitengela? We checked.

Video editing effect used

The motion of the waves in the video is unnatural and it can even be seen in the sky where an earthquake would have no effect. There is also no evidence of buildings shaking or objects falling as would be expected in a quake.

Water seen on one of the roofs does not move at all either, and the filming is clearly unaffected by the movement, despite the implication that the filmmaker is in the middle of the quake. 

Something else to note is that the captions say the time was “21:45 pm” but it’s clearly daytime in the video. 

The wavy motion seen on the video is exactly what a wave or ripple effect edit applied vertically to a video would look like, and that is what it is. It is an editing effect applied to the video to create the wavy-looking motion. 

The claim that the video shows an earthquake happening is false and could cause unnecessary panic.

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