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Video shows truck colliding with helicopter in Brazil, not Kenya

A jarring Facebook video shows a truck driving into the turning rotors of a helicopter standing on a road, smashing the blades, sending debris flying and spilling the truck’s cargo of blue drums.

“Only in Kenya where a helicopter is parked at the middle of the road,” the headline reads.

But did the collision happen in Kenya? We sought to find out.

Incident in Brazil

A reverse image search of a screenshot from the video led to a YouTube video on a channel run by a Turkish website. Its caption, translated from Turkish, reads: “In Brazil, a truck crashed into the propellers of the landing helicopter.”

The same video was also found on Brazilian websites. One was captioned: “Truck that was on BR-364, in the Second District of Rio Branco, hit the helicopter at the time of takeoff. Some military personnel were taken to the hospital.”

Another said: “Ciopaer's helicopter propeller crashes into truck when starting takeoff in Rio Branco Acre. Truck that was on BR-364, in the Second District of Rio Branco, hit the helicopter at the time of takeoff. Some military personnel were taken to the hospital.”

Using Google Maps, we found that BR-364 is a Brazilian highway and Rio Branco a municipality in the Brazilian state of Acre.

A different angle

We searched for more videos of the incident using Portuguese words from the captions: hélice (propeller or rotor), helicoptero (helicopter) and Rio Branco.

One video, posted on video licensing site Rumble, shows the incident from a different angle. It is in high enough resolution that the words “Bancravea Clube” can be read on a fence in the background. The word “Limpebras” is also visible on the uniforms of two people running away and sheltering in a car.

The Portuguese search words also brought Brazilian media reports of the incident by national broadcaster Globo and film producer Beto Ribeiro – who posted a clip of the incident – and international outlets. 

Close-up photos

The news reports, translated from Portuguese, confirm the stories in the YouTube videos. A helicopter from the Integrated Air Operations Centre (Ciopaer) in Acre was on the ground at a roundabout preparing to take off when it was hit by a truck. Two crew members were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

Ribeiro’s site has two close-up photos of the helicopter after the accident. It bears the letters “HARPIA 01” on the front and “PR CJD” on the side.

Photos on Ciopaer Acre’s Instagram and Facebook pages show a white yellow and green helicopter with the same lettering as the one in the collision.

According to a statement on the official Acre website, Brazil's national government donated the helicopter to Ciopaer Acre on 7 March 2019. The statement includes a photo of the aircraft. In another statement on 18 January 2020, the state government confirmed that the aircraft was involved in a collision with a truck in the second district of Rio Branco.

The Santa Ines neighbourhood

A search for “Bancrevea Clube” – the words on the fence – and “Rio Branco” brings up many Facebook groups associated with a sports club on highway BR-364 in the Santa Ines neighbourhood of Rio Branco. 

The logo of the club matches that of a photo of the helicopter accident, making it highly likely that the sports club is in the background. The club and its location are also listed on a local fitness site

A branch of the waste company Limpebras, whose worker is visible in the clip, is close to that location, according to its website.

Google Maps does not show the sports club labelled, it shows a hardware store, Comercial Da Construção located opposite the sports club. A YouTube user posted a video of the incident showing the helicopter, the sports club and the hardware store all in the same place, proving the crash happened in Rio Branco Brazil, not Kenya. – Vincent Ng’ethe


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