Old photo falsely shared as Burmese military helicopter shot down by anti-junta fighters in 2023

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on February 10, 2023 at 09:15
  • 2 min read
  • By AFP Thailand
An old photo of a Burmese military helicopter crash has been falsely linked to a chopper that was reportedly shot down by anti-junta fighters in February 2023. The helicopter in the photo actually crashed on a mountainside amid strong winds in the city of Hakha in 2022.

"On February 3 (3:45 p.m.) in Homalin township, the image of the fragment of the helicopter shot down by the People's Defense Forces," reads a Burmese-language Facebook post shared on February 3.

The photo shows people gathered around a crashed helicopter.

The People's Defence Forces (PDF) was formed to protect civilians from deadly violence that erupted after the junta seized power in a coup in February 2021.

The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since the military toppled democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government, alleging massive fraud during elections her party won in 2020.

The screenshot of the misleading Facebook post taken on February 9, 2023.

Myanmar's National Unity Government, a shadow government that is working to overturn the coup, said the PDF shot down a military helicopter in Homalin township in Myanmar's Sagaing Region on February 3.

AFP cannot verify if the incident took place.

The same photo was shared in similar Facebook posts here, here and here.

2022 crash

Keyword searches on Google found the photo in a report from March 29, 2022 by Chinese state news agency Xinhua's Burmese-language edition

The report is titled: "Five injured after a military helicopter crashed on a mountainside in Hakha".

"The military helicopter was carrying matriculation examination question papers when it crashed on a mountainside due to a strong wind," it says.

Hakha is the capital of Myanmar's Chin state.

The photo caption reads: "Scene of the military helicopter that crashed in Hakha today (MRTV)".

Below is a screenshot comparison between the photo seen in misleading posts (left) and the photo published by Xinhua (right):

Screenshot comparison between the photo seen in misleading posts (left) and the photo published by Xinhua (right).

The photo was also published in a report by Myanmar’s state-run broadcaster Myanmar International TV on March 29, 2022.

The report is titled: "Helicopter accident: Tatmadaw helicopter accident near Hakha airport confirmed", referring to the military by its Burmese name.

Various media outlets covered the crash, including Eleven, Irrawaddy and RFA, while the US-based aviation accident monitoring website Aviation Safety Network also reported on it.

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