VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Baby from 2018 ferry accident FALSELY claimed as Jan. 9 plane crash survivor

Photos of a baby wrongly claimed to be a survivor of a "2019 Indonesian plane crash” are again circulating. But this time, the child is being misrepresented as a “survivor” of Sriwijaya Flight SJ182, which crashed in Indonesian waters last Jan. 9.

The pictures were not from a plane crash, and neither were they from 2019 nor this January. They showed a kid rescued from a sea disaster in 2018.

A March 2019 post of Nigeria-based FB page so-good beauty heaven, which has 18,000 shares and counting, is currently circulating among Filipino FB users.

It features two images of a crying baby wrapped in a bright orange life vest, captioned: “3 days after the crash of the indonesian plane. Rescuers found this baby attached to a rescue panel that his mother tied him up before making the soul [sic].... 3 days in the ocean without waters [sic] or food and in the cold. It goes beyond my understanding. But I know that God is at the origin of this miracle.”

It gained traction among social media users again this month, with netizens misconstruing the incident to be that involving Sriwijaya Air, which crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after takeoff less than two weeks ago.

On Jan. 12, a Filipino FB user also uploaded a screengrab of a similar post but cropped out the name of the original publisher.

The photos show a baby who was found floating at sea after the ferry MV Lestari Maju ran aground in the waters of Selayar Island, South Sulawesi, Indonesia on July 3, 2018.

The maritime accident, caused by a leak as the ferry faced rough waters, killed at least 34 people.

Indonesian news site Tribun-Medan.com reported on July 4, 2018 that rescuers found “a baby adrift on high seas” after the ferry’s sinking. The story carried the same two photos in FB page so-good beauty heaven’s post, as well as a video showing the child being tended to after he was found.

Thousands shared the false FB posts this January amid rescue efforts for passengers of the Sriwijaya Air flight. As of Jan. 18, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency chief, Vice Marshal Bagus Puruhito, announced a three-day extension for the search of bodies and debris from the plane crash. There were no survivors reported among the 62 people on board.

The Filipino netizen’s post got 18,000 reactions, 11,000 shares, and 630 comments, while FB page so-good beauty haven’s version has received over 8,700 reactions, 4,000 comments and 18,000 shares.

The same falsehood circulated in India and was debunked by fact-checking organizations BOOM, NewsMeter and The Logical Indian.

FB page so-good beauty haven was created in November 2019, and FB group UPDATE SA MARAWI CITY DANSALAN in June 2017.

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

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