Video shows avalanche in northeastern India, not resort in Pakistan
A video of an avalanche hitting people has been viewed more than a hundred thousand times in social media posts that falsely claim the accident occurred in Pakistan. The video was in fact filmed in northeastern India, near its border with China. Similar videos of the avalanche were posted weeks earlier by Indian news organisations.
"Dozens of tourists were buried in an avalanche in Naran and Kaghan. For God’s sake, travel carefully in areas with heavy snowfall," reads the Urdu-language caption of a video shared on Facebook here on April 25, 2023.
Naran and Kaghan are popular mountain resort towns in northern Pakistan (archived links here and here).
The video, which has been viewed more than 160,000 times, shows people being swept away by an avalanche before cutting to a longer clip of frantic efforts to dig out people trapped under the snow.
Some people can be heard calling for help and directing rescue efforts in Hindi and Bengali while they attempt to uncover those who have been buried.
The video circulated after roads surrounding Naran were closed due to a "glacier outburst" on April 20.
The provincial tourism department tweeted, "Tourist Alert :: Due to the glacier outburst, the main Kaghan Naran Road is CLOSED for all kind of traffic near Kaghan. Tourists are advised not to travel to Kaghan/ Naran during Eid Holidays to ensure safety" (archived link).
Videos showing the same scenes were also shared alongside similar claims elsewhere on Facebook here, here and here, as well as on Twitter here, here and here.
Comments on the posts suggest many people believed the avalanche occurred in the Pakistani resort towns.
"People celebrate Eid at home, but these cursed people deserve this (because they go out)," read one comment.
Another said: "It is not a glacier burst, but India has released floodwater (into Pakistan)."
But the video was not filmed in Pakistan.
Avalanche in Sikkim
Indian media outlets posted similar clips in early April of an avalanche in Nathula, in the country's northeastern state of Sikkim.
According to the Sikkim tourism department, the Nathula mountain pass is famous for its scenic views; only Indian nationals can visit the pass -- which borders China -- after obtaining a permit from the government (archived link).
Hindi news channel Aaj Tak posted a clip on YouTube here on April 4 with a caption that says it occurred in Sikkim (archived link).
The footage appears to be a zoomed out version of the video being falsely shared on social media.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the false Facebook post (left) and the clip used by Aaj Tak (right):
Another Indian news outlet News 18 posted the same clip here on YouTube on April 5 (archived link).
Part of the clip's caption reads, "The Moment when avalanche hit Sikkim's Nathula".
A comparison of the clip used by the Indian news organisations and the clip included in the video falsely shared on social media of people digging those trapped under the snow shows were filmed at the same location. Both clips feature three grouped poles and what appears to be a yellow bulldozer.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the video used in the false Facebook post (left) and Aaj Tak's YouTube clip (right), with the matching features highlighted by AFP:
Indian newspaper The Times of India reported on April 5 that seven tourists were killed in the avalanche (archived link).
An Indian army Twitter account also posted photos and a video of rescue efforts at the avalanche site on April 4 (archived link).
Footage at the 30-second mark of the video matches with the video used in the false social media posts, showing three poles grouped together and a yellow construction vehicle.
Below is a screenshot comparison of corresponding features from the video used in the false post (left) and the video uploaded by the Indian army (right), with the matching features highlighted by AFP: