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Dated photo at Moscow refinery is misrepresented as wartime image

Dated photo at Moscow refinery is misrepresented as wartime image - Featured image

Author(s): AFP USA

A photo of a burning building is being shared on Twitter alongside claims it shows a fire at a factory supplying aircraft engines to Russia’s military amid its war in Ukraine. This is false; the image first appeared in 2018 and shows an oil refinery that caught fire, according to reports from the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Moscow and news articles from the time.

“A factory that produces engines for MiG fighter jets is on fire in Moscow,” a May 12, 2023 tweet says, shared by an account titled “Ukraine front lines,” and accompanied by a picture of a burning building.

A screenshot of a tweet taken on May 12, 2023

The claim, which also appeared here and here, is part of continuing social media misinformation circulating about the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The image shared in the tweets above, however, predates the war in Ukraine, which began with the Russian invasion in 2022.

A reverse image search in Google showed an exact match of the image in local news reports that linked to a post on the Russian social media platform VK as the source for the image.

“There is a fire at the Moscow Oil Refinery. There were no casualties, thank God. Currently, about 100 firefighters are working on the spot,” the November 17, 2018 post says in Russian.

A screenshot of a VK post taken on May 12, 2023

Reuters also reported on the incident at the time, and the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Moscow released updates about field emergency responses on its website and on Twitter in the hours and days following the start of the fire.

The misrepresented posts appeared after reports of another incident on Telegram and in local Russian and Ukrainian news outlets on May 12 about a fire at a Moscow factory that manufactures military and industrial aircraft engines.

The Telegram post says in Russian: “In Moscow, a fire broke at the machine-building plant V.V. Chernyshev, three people were injured. This enterprise manufactures engines for MiG aircraft. According to our information, the fire broke out in one of the company’s buildings on Vishnevaya Street at about 4AM. In an office on the second floor, personal belongings and furniture … caught fire … Rescuers arrived at the scene and extinguished the fire, the victims were transported by ambulance” — sharing a picture of the building, intact.

AFP geolocated the factory and found it is also based in a different area of Moscow, about 43 kms (26.7 miles) from the refinery.

AFP reached out to the Russian manufacturer but a response was not forthcoming.

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Originally published here.