FACT CHECK: Does This Video Show A Volcanic Eruption In Tonga?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A video shared on Facebook purportedly shows the “exact moment” the recent volcanic eruption in Tonga took place.

Verdict: False

The video actually shows a years-old digital simulation of a volcanic eruption.

Fact Check:

Tonga, a nation consisting of about 170 islands located in the Pacific Ocean, was hit by a volcanic eruption and tsunami Jan. 17, with officials calling the event an “unprecedented disaster” that left at least three dead, according to CNN. Authorities from nearby New Zealand have warned of more potential eruptions that could disrupt aid, the outlet reported.

Social media users began sharing a video claiming to show the “exact moment” when Tonga was hit by the eruption of, what the post calls, the “Valcan Tonga Karaka Tonga” volcano. The video shows an explosion in the distance before a blast wave hits the island, leaving behind massive devastation.

A reverse image search conducted by Check Your Fact found the video predates the recent natural disasters in Tonga. The video is a digital simulation of a volcanic eruption shared on YouTube in October 2017 by the Auckland War Memorial Museum before being deleted. The museum re-uploaded the YouTube video in December 2019. A still from the video can be seen on the museum’s page titled “Living with volcanoes.”

“This is an educational simulation of an earthquake caused by a volcanic eruption,” the YouTube video’s description reads. (RELATED: Does This Video Show A Tsunami Hitting China During The Coronavirus Pandemic?)

The video can also be found on creative agency company Brandspank‘s Vimeo page in 2011 with the title “Auckland Museum Volcanic Eruption.” The description credits the company for the photography and the visual effects of the video.

“This projected sequence was designed to simulate a window view in a purpose built set of an Auckland lounge room,” the video’s caption reads, in part. “High end 3D technologies and particle effects were combined with a background plate creating a realistic rendering of a catastrophic event.”

Check Your fact previously debunked a video in December 2021 that falsely claimed to show the eruption of Indonesia’s Mount Semeru.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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