False posts share old photo of evacuation drill as 'scene of Korean Air plane crash in 2022'

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

A photo of passengers fleeing a burning plane has been shared repeatedly on social media alongside a false claim it shows the evacuation of a Korean Air plane that crashed at an airport in the Philippines in October 2022. In fact, it shows people participating in an evacuation drill conducted at Incheon Airport in September 2014.

"Cebu accident evacuation scene," reads the Korean-language claim shared alongside the image on Facebook here on October 24, 2022.

The image shows people evacuating a burning plane via stairs featuring the logo of Korean Air.

The claim circulated online after Korean Air flight KE631 slid off the runway while landing at the Philippines' Cebu international airport on October 23, leaving its front and nose heavily damaged, AFP reported.

Philippine aviation authorities said all 173 people on board, crew and passengers, were safely evacuated from the plane using emergency slides.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post. Captured October 24, 2022.

The image was shared alongside a similar claim here on Twitter; and here and here on Naver Band, a popular South Korean social media platform.

However, the image actually shows people evacuating a burning plane during an emergency exercise held at Incheon Airport in September 2014.

Old photo

A reverse image search on Google shows the photo corresponds to an image published in a report by Asia news agency, a South Korean company, on August 1, 2016, about a series of airline accidents involving Korean Air flights.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image shared in the false posts (left) and the image published by the Asia news agency (right):

The image's caption reads: "Safety problems have been exposed as a result of a series of accidents on Korean Air planes, leading to complaints about the lack of inspections and proper management on flights. /Asia news agency database".

The report covered several accidents affecting Korean Air flights in 2016, including a tire blowout on July 28 and a fire on a plane departing from Japan's Haneda Airport on May 27, but the image actually predates these events.

Evacuation drill

A separate keyword search on the photo database of Yonhap News, one of South Korea's largest news organisations, found similar images published on September 3, 2014, showing an evacuation exercise held at Incheon airport.

The caption on one similar photo reads: "Passengers flee a plane on fire during the 'comprehensive passenger flight crisis response exercise' conducted at Incheon Airport's fire training grounds on the 3rd (September) in preparation for potential emergency situations such as plane fires two weeks ahead of the Incheon Asian Games.

"Around 600 people from approximately 40 organisations and airlines such as the Incheon city fire department, airport police, and Jin Air took part in the drill, which simulated a crisis in which a plane caught fire after skidding off the runway."

Below is a screenshot comparison of the Asia news agency image (top) and two photos published by Yonhap News in September 2014 (bottom):

Screenshot comparison of the Asia news agency image (top) and two photos published by Yonhap News in September 2014 (bottom)

The images show matching features on the plane and a staircase marked with the Korean Air logo.

AFP has marked two figures who appear to be guiding passengers off the plane in red.

Photos of the same evacuation drill -- staged just two weeks before the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon -- were also published in local media reports here and here.

October 26, 2022 Edited third paragraph to say "the logo of Korean Air".