Old photos falsely shared as showing 'aftermath of Severe Tropical Storm Nalgae' in the Philippines

Several photos have been falsely shared in Facebook posts in the Philippines that claim they show the aftermath of Severe Tropical Storm Nalgae, which killed more than 160 people in the country in late October. The posts claim the photos show the devastating impact of Nalgae -- known locally as Paeng -- on local farmers, crops and animals. But the photos have circulated in news reports about the effect of days of heavy rain in Nepal in 2021 and in social media posts about a different storm that hit the Philippines in 2019.

"What typhoon Paeng did to our brave farmers. PRAY FOR OUR FARMERS," reads in part a Tagalog-language post shared on Facebook here on October 29, 2022.

"Paeng" is the local name for Severe Tropical Storm Nalgae, a powerful storm that triggered landslides and flooding across the Philippines in late October and killed more than 160 people.

The post includes seven photos that show what appear to be dead animals and farmers in damaged fields.

Screenshot of the false post, captured on November 16, 2022

Posts making the same claim using many of the same photos were also shared elsewhere on Facebook here and here.

Comments on the posts suggest some users believed the photos showed how farmers had been affected by Nalgae.

"I'm crying. PAENG!!!" one user commented.

"I pity our farmers," wrote another.

But the claim is false; reverse image searches found the photos have circulated in reports and posts published before Nalgae hit the Philippines.

Farmer photos

The first photo used in the false posts was published on October 25, 2021 by the Nepalese news outlet Online Khabar.

"A farmer laments the loss caused by unseasonal rainfall, in Dhanusha of Province 2, in October 2021. Photo: Shrawan Dev," reads the photo's caption.

The report says that Nepal witnessed "unusually heavy rainfall which resulted in massive flooding and landslides across the country."

"Many farmers and their families are in deep grief as hundreds of thousands of hectares of ready-to-harvest paddy are submerged in water," it adds.

AFP reported that hundreds of people died in flooding and landslides caused by heavy rain in India and Nepal -- casualties that experts attributed to ever-more unpredictable and extreme weather caused by climate change and exacerbated by deforestation, damming and excessive development.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo of the farmer used in the false posts (left) and the photo on Online Khabar's website (right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo of the farmer used in the false posts (left) and the photo on Online Khabar's website (right)

The second photo showing damaged crops has been published in reports here and here in October 2021 about "unseasonal rains" in Nepal.

News outlet Routine of Nepal Banda (RONB) credited Rajendra Prasad Paneru from Nepal's National News Agency (RSS) for the photo. It was also posted on his Facebook page here.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo used in the false posts (left) and the photo used by the news outlet (centre and right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo used in the misleading posts (left) and the photo used by the news outlet (centre and right)

The third photo, which shows a woman wading through a flooded field, was published in BBC and Nepal Times reports from October 2021.

The BBC report also credited RSS for the photo.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo used in the false posts (left) and the photo as it appeared in the BBC and Nepal Times news reports (centre and right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo used in the false posts (left) and the photo as it appeared in the BBC and Nepal Times news reports (centre and right)

The fourth image, showing a partially submerged woman holding up crops, also circulated in online articles about the rain in Nepal in October 2021 here and here.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo used in the false posts (left) and the photo used in the articles (centre and right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo used in the false posts (left) and the photo used in the articles (centre and right)

Animal photos

The fifth and sixth photos showing dead livestock were published on the Facebook page "Barangay Alsem Vintar" -- a village in Ilocos Norte province -- on August 24, 2019.

The caption says it shows cows and carabaos killed during Tropical Storm Bailu, which was known locally as "Ineng".

The storm left two people dead and caused more than a billion pesos worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure in the northern Philippines, according to local media reports here and here.

Below are screenshot comparisons of the photos used in the false posts (left) and the photos published on Facebook in 2019 (right):

Screenshot comparisons of the photos used in the false posts (left) and the photos published on Facebook in 2019 (right)

The final photo, showing what appear to be dead birds, also circulated in Facebook posts about Tropical Storm Bailu in 2019 here and here.

"The photos show devastating scenes... Animals like cows, goats and chickens died and the worst is that human life was wasted," the caption of one of the posts reads in part.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo used in the false posts (left) and the photo from the 2019 Facebook posts (centre and right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo used in the false posts (left) and the photo from the 2019 Facebook posts (centre and right)

AFP has previously debunked false claims about Nalgae that misrepresented old photos here, here and here.