The post was flagged as potentially false on Facebook, after being shared in Nigeria. Did 150 bus passengers die in the road accident shown in the photo? We investigated.
Clues blog shares false information
The blog it’s posted on throws up a number of red flags that the story is false. Titled Now News, it’s hosted on Blogger, a free blog-publishing service. This suggests it is not run by a credible and professional news organisation.
A similar post from 8 March, shared on the nearly identical blog Zungerugist, claims the photo shows a crash on the Kano-Zaria road in Nigeria that killed “over 100 passengers”.
The Now News web address is also a clue. It is “https://unclepetersblogg.blogspot.com/”, which implies the site has some connection to an “uncle Peter”. Yet this person isn’t mentioned on the blog itself, and the blog’s owner goes by the username AJEBO.
AJEBO runs 12 nearly identical blogs, with no obvious connection between them other than the dodgy stories they all post. On 5 February Now News published a story claiming that Vanessa Bryant had killed herself after her husband, basketballer Kobe Bryant, died with one of their daughters in a helicopter crash. This is a false claim that Africa Check has debunked.
The post about the crash also contains nothing but the photo, with no context or explanation. There are two links – “READ & SEE MORE PHOTOS” and “WATCH VIDEO HERE” – but these go to another site, and only show adverts.
The same is true for links posted elsewhere on Now News and AJEBO’s other blogs. This is a good sign that the blogs are designed simply to encourage people to click these links, so that the blog owner can earn money from advertising.
But some sites like this still post real news stories. So how do we know this story is false?
Crash in November 2018
Now News doesn’t include any more details other than the headline, so we couldn’t search for information related to the claim and try to find another source to verify it.
Instead, we did a reverse image search, and found that several Zimbabwean news outlets published the same or similar photos in November 2018. An article in the newspaper the Zimbabwean includes an uncropped original version of the photo.
The articles say the accident happened near the Zimbabwean town of Rusape, 180 kilometres southeast of the capital, Harare, on 7 November 2018. Credible news organisations confirmed the details.
Zimbabwean newspaper the Herald posted a story about the accident, as did international news outlet the Guardian. These mainstream news outlets confirm that two passenger buses collided near Rusape, on the Harare-Mutare highway.
The crash killed 47 people – not 150 or 100. The accident didn’t occur “today” in February 2020, as Now News says, or March 2020, a the Zungerugist post implies. The crash was in November 2018. – Keegan Leech
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