Photo of burnt dead from DRC tanker explosion, not ‘Christians killed by Muslims in Nigeria’

Warning: This article links to content with graphic and upsetting images.

An old but graphic photo showing dozens of charred dead bodies has resurfaced in an article headlined “Killing of Christians in Nigeria: I Have Lost My Peace” on the site Biafra Rise. The story has been shared a few times on Facebook.

The author claims he had seen no fewer than 50 corpses on the floor of the mortuary at “St Gerrard’s Hospital”. This is presumably St Gerard Catholic Hospital in Kaduna, the capital of Kaduna state in northwestern Nigeria.

He says more than half the dead were children under 10. Some had their throats slit, and some their “skulls smashed”.

The victims, he says, were “my southern Kaduna innocent people” and “Christians” killed by “Fulani herdsman/Muslims” – the “kinsmen” of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.  

By its name the website Biafra Rise supports the secession of the territory in the southeast of Nigeria identified as Biafra.

Fuel tanker explosion in DRC in 2010

But back in 2014 Africa Check debunked a series of similar images, showing the same scene of countless badly burnt corpses lying in the open in front of an old building with a rusting corrugated iron roof.

This time it was claimed that the photos were of 375 Christians murdered by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria. But they were false evidence of a massacre.

What the photos actually show are victims of a 2010 fuel tanker explosion in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2010 that killed more than 200 people and injured 100.

The tanker had overturned and started leaking fuel when it exploded. According to the Telegraph, some were killed trying to steal the fuel, but most of the victims were indoors watching a 2010 World Cup football match.

Photos published across the world

The photos have also been used as evidence of “Rohingyas burned alive” in Myanmar.

A 2017 article on NewsFrames lists the many times one particular photo of the tanker tragedy has been falsely used across the world as evidence of massacres in either Nigeria or Myanmar.

It has been published on websites from Algeria to Vietnam, and there are “other confirmed examples of falsely using the image in Sweden, Poland, Belgium, Netherlands, and Argentina”. – Africa Check (06/05/19)


Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check has partnered with Facebook to combat fake news and false information on the social platform. This fact-check is part of the initiative.

As part of its third-party fact-checking programme, Facebook allows its partners to see public articles, pictures or videos that have been flagged as potentially inaccurate.

Content rated as “false” by fact-checkers will be downgraded in news feeds. This means fewer people will see it.

You can help us identify fake news and false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

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