Video shows wildfire on Kenya’s Mount Longonot, not a volcanic eruption

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

A video shared alongside claims that it shows an active eruption on Kenya’s Mount Longonot has been viewed thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter. However, this is false; the Kenya Wildlife Society (KWS) confirmed to AFP Fact Check there has been no volcanic eruption but there was a fire that broke out and ravaged about 40 hectares of the mountainside.

On October 27, 2022, a Facebook post shared a video of what appears to be a nighttime blaze in the distance and accompanying audio (partly in Kikuyu) claiming the footage depicts a volcanic eruption at Mount Longonot.

“Just witnessed some eruption from Mt Longonot...Lava is now flowing from the mountain...,” reads the caption of the post, which has been viewed more than 3,200 times.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on October 28, 2022

On Twitter, an account with more than 42,000 followers shared the same video alongside the caption: “UPDATE: Volcanic eruption currently at Mt Longonot.” The video has been viewed more than 77,000 times and retweeted more than 500 times.

A screenshot of the false tweet, taken on October 28, 2022

Mount Longonot is an extinct volcano located in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley region and is one of the most frequently hiked mountains in the country. Extinct volcanoes are those that scientists do not expect to erupt in the future, as opposed to dormant volcanoes which are those that have not erupted in a long time but may yet wake up.

Mount Longonot’s last eruption is believed to have taken place in the 1860s.

No eruption

There were no reports of any volcanic eruption in Kenyan news outlets. The Kenya Wildlife Society (KWS), the government body in charge of Mount Longonot’s park, dismissed the online claims.

“There was no volcanic eruption of the mountain as reported in some media platforms. We assure that the park is safe to all visitors,” KWS said in a statement.

KWS said that there was a fire outbreak on the southern side of Mt Longonot National Park reported on October 27, 2022, which destroyed about 40 hectares of bush.

“An emergency response team dispatched to the area managed to contain and finally extinguish the inferno this morning (Friday, October 28, 2022),” the statement said.

KWS communications official Paul Jinaro told AFP Fact Check that the cause of the fire is yet to be established.

AFP Fact Check received photographs from hikers Outdoorer KE on October 29, 2022, showing the burnt section of Mt Longonot still smouldering.

Image supplied to AFP Fact Check by Outdoorer KE on October 29, 2022

Additionally, the Facebook account that first posted the video later claimed what they “witnessed ... could also be a wildfire”.

October 29, 2022 UPDATE: Added picture of Mt Longonot showing fire-ravaged section