Old photo shows aftermath of flash flooding in Malaysian tunnel, not a new tunnel in China
As reports surfaced of water leaks inside a newly opened undersea tunnel in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian in May 2023, an image was shared in multiple Korean-language social media posts that falsely claimed it showed the inside of the structure. But the picture in fact shows the inside of a tunnel in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur following flash flooding in November 2018.
"Dalian's undersea tunnel filled with water yesterday," reads the Korean-language caption to an image shared on Facebook here on May 18, 2023.
It appears to show two people wading through waist-high water towards a submerged car inside a tunnel.
The same photo was also shared on DCInside, a South Korean forum, here and here.
The photo circulated online after South Korean media reported here and here that there had been leaks inside the 5.1-kilometre (3.1-mile) Dalian Bay Undersea Tunnel that opened on May 1 (archived links here, here and here).
The news reports shared different footage -- which appeared to have been shot from a car travelling through the tunnel -- showing water leaking from the structure's roof and the road submerged.
The same video was also used in several Chinese news reports here, here and here (archived links here, here and here).
China's state-run Global Times newspaper said Dalian authorities later confirmed a water leak had occurred in the tunnel as a result of damaged fire hydrants inside the tunnel (archived link).
But the image circulating on social media does not show the Dalian tunnel; it in fact shows a tunnel in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur flash flooding in November 2018.
A reverse image search on Google led to a report published by the New Straits Times on November 11, 2018, about flash flooding at the Jalan Tun Razak tunnel in Kuala Lumpur (archived link).
The image, credited to the Kuala Lumpur metropolitan government, includes a caption that reads, "A car was submerged in Jalan Tun Razak tunnel here after a flash flood hit the capital today."
The flash flooding that hit the Malaysian capital in November 2018 was reported by both local and international news organisations at the time, including here, here and here (archived links here, here and here).
According to the reports, photos of a man trapped atop a car stuck in the flooded tunnel -- which appears to be the same vehicle seen in the New Straits Times photo -- were widely circulated on Malaysian social media at the time.
The Facebook page for the Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART), a project aimed at mitigating flooding in the capital, posted one of these photos alongside a description that it showed the Jalan Tun Razak tunnel (archived link).
Google Street View imagery of the tunnel shows white panel walls and the positioning of tunnel lighting that matches with what is seen in the image falsely shared on social media (archived link).
Below is a screenshot comparison of the image used in the false post (left) and a section of the tunnel seen through Google Street View (right):
Meanwhile, footage of the Dalian Bay Undersea Tunnel from China's state-run CGTN posted on YouTube here shows the tunnel has a different looking interior from the Kuala Lumpur tunnel (archived link).
Below is a screenshot comparison of CGTN's footage of the Dalian tunnel (left) and the New Straits Times photo of the Jalan Tun Razak tunnel (right):