FACT CHECK: Do These Photos Show A Blue Flash In The Sky Moments Before The Earthquake In Turkey And Syria?

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

Photos shared on Twitter purport to show a blue flash in the sky moments before a recent earthquake struck Turkey and Syria.

Verdict: False

The first photo can be traced back to a video published in a 2021 article from the Independent, and the second photo appears in a 2017 article from the BBC.

Fact Check:

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Antakya, Turkey, near the country’s border with Syria, BBC News reported Feb. 21. The latest earthquake to rock the country has killed at least six people and injured hundreds of others, according to CNN.

The Twitter post features two image of a blue flash in the sky. “Before yesterday’s earthquake on the border of Turkey and Syria, a blue flash was noticed in the sky. Hala Hasan, director of the Higher Institute of Seismic Research at the University of Damascus, said there was no explanation for this,” the Twitter post, viewed over 600 times, purports.

The claim is false. The first photo stems from a video published in a 2021 article from the British outlet, The Independent. The article highlighted a “rare natural light show,” including blue and red flashes that took place in Mexico following a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. (RELATED: Does This Photo Show An Imam Thanking A Dog For Rescuing People In Turkey?)

The second photo appears in a 2017 article from BBC News covering the same phenomenon following an 8.2-magnitude earthquake in Mexico. The article was updated in 2021 following the subsequent 7.1-magnitude earthquake in the country, which struck Acapulco. The flashes are called “earthquake lights” and have been documented since the 1600s, the outlet indicated.

The purported photos have not appeared in any credible news reports about the recent earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria. Likewise, the photos are neither referenced on the Turkish Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD)’s website nor on its verified social media accounts.

Misinformation regarding the Turkey earthquakes have circulated on social media since the start of February 2023. Check Your Fact recently debunked a photo allegedly showing a dog partaking in search and rescue efforts following the Feb. 6 earthquake.

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter