VERA FILES FACT CHECK: 10-year-old photos FALSELY passed off as the effects of Typhoon Odette


A few hours after Typhoon Odette (international name: Rai) made landfall in the Visayas and Mindanao, an album of images supposedly showing the destruction it caused went viral on Facebook (FB). But the post is false — it erroneously used photos from a killer storm from over a decade ago.

Published by an FB user on the afternoon of Dec. 16, the album was captioned “Mga bangkay na naKita sa hagupit (Corpses found after the fury) #OdettePH 12/16/2021 #TyphonOdettePH #Mindanao #HagupitNiBagyongOdette #RIP.”

It carried nine images that showed debris, overturned vehicles, recovered human bodies, and raging floods.

Six of the images, including those which showed corpses, were taken in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Sendong (international name: Washi), which devastated the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in Northern Mindanao and left over 1,400 dead in December 2011.

The original photos could be traced via reverse image search to an FB album published by an Iligan native on Dec. 17, 2011. The netizen described it as Sendong’s “visit” to his city and featured 151 photos.

The original publisher of the Sendong photos also reacted to at least one publisher that misrepresented his pictures as showing Typhoon Odette, and aired his frustration through an FB post.

The sources of the two other images of floods could not be traced, but one final photo showing water rushing under a bridge was nearly identical to a photo uploaded by a German-language website that ran a report about Odette.

The site’s copy indicated that the image was shot at Talakag town, Bukidnon. It carried a date and time stamp (Dec. 16, 2021 10:53), similar to the currently circulating photo (Dec. 16, 2021 10:52), suggesting that the two are related.

The circulating false post has earned the ire of netizens, with some calling out the publisher for the “fake” post. Others also provided links and screenshots to the 2011 album of the Iligan-based FB user to debunk the post.

The untrue FB content currently has over 23,000 shares, 3,200 interactions and 1,400 comments.


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(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)