VERA FILES FACT CHECK: These burials happened in Sri Lanka, NOT Italy

An April 2 post by blog Stay Safe carrying two photos falsely showing the burial of corpses in “a village in Italy” was revived and reshared on Facebook (FB) by Philippine-based FB groups this month.

In March, Italy became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. Overwhelmed with fatalities, the army had to transport corpses in trucks from one town to another since local crematoriums could no longer accommodate them.

Stay Safe’s photos however, were not taken in Italy but in Sri Lanka and were unrelated to the pandemic.

The first, showing a large number of people hovering over caskets covered in white cloth, is a June 2006 Agence France-Presse photo capturing the funeral of 61 bomb attack victims in Kebitogollewa, Sri Lanka.

The second photo showing three of four cadavers wearing white and laid down on white beds, was published on April 18, 2019 by different Sri Lankan news organizations. They were victims of a traffic collision the day before, involving a bus and a van in Mahiyanganaya, Sri Lanka.

The false blog post has been shared with over 280 FB groups based in the Philippines, India, and Nigeria among others, since April 3. It has almost 19,000 interactions and could have reached around 33.7 million social media users.

Its reshares in Filipino FB groups Francis Leo Marcos Supporters group and Francis Leo Marcos for Change movement -- its top traffic generator -- came a day after the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines reached over 27,000.

As of June 19, local cases have hit over 28,500. Italy, for its part, has recorded more than 238,150 cases with deaths of over 34,500.

(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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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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