Posts misleadingly reshare old photo following deadly Turkey quake

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An old photo of an elderly man crying in front of a destroyed building has been shared in posts misleadingly linking it to the deadly earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in February 2023. The photo has actually appeared in news reports since November 1999 about a powerful quake that jolted the northwestern part of Turkey that year.

The decades-old photo was shared on Facebook on February 15, 2023.

The Burmese-language post partly says: "This person owned three buildings before the earthquakes in Turkey. About 40 seconds after the earthquake, he no longer has anything to eat. This is a photo of him standing with the food others have distributed."

It circulated after a massive earthquake killed more then 44,000 people in Turkey and thousands more in neighbouring Syria.

Screenshot taken on February 27, 2023 of the misleading post.

The devastating February 6, 2023 earthquake and aftershocks that hit southern Turkey have caused damage worth more than $34 billion in the country, the World Bank said.

The amount is equivalent to four percent of Turkey's GDP in 2021, the Washington-based institution said, adding that the estimate does not account for the costs of reconstruction that were "potentially twice as large," a statement said.

The estimate also does not take into account the damage caused in northern Syria, also particularly affected by the earthquakes.

The World Bank warned that the continuing aftershocks are likely to increase the total amount of damage caused by the disaster.

The same photo was also misleadingly shared in similar posts by other social media users from Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, India and Kenya.

Tweets here and here have shared the photo alongside captions that directly mention the Turkey-Syria earthquake.

A Google reverse search, however, found the photo was earlier published by the state-run Turkish media Anadolu Agency on November 13, 1999.

The photo's caption translates as, "A magnitude 7.2 earthquake caused loss of life and property in Duzce. The cry of this elderly man, holding bread that was given as aid for victims of the quake, has made for a great image."

A magnitude 7.2 quake struck the northwestern Turkish town of Duzce on November 12, killing over 800 people.

More than 12,000 homes and some 2,500 offices were destroyed or heavily damaged in the quake, AFP reported at the time.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (left) and the photo published by Anadolu Agency (right):

Screenshot comparison of the photo in the misleading posts (left) and the photo published by Anadolu Agency (right).

Anadolu Agency also published a series of photos here featuring the same elderly man.

The photos were credited to journalist Abdurrahman Antakyali, who tweeted the same photo here on November 12, 2014.

"It's been 15 years since we took this photo in the Duzce earthquake. I didn't even get his name, I was in turmoil at that moment," he wrote about the picture.

AFP has debunked a wave of misinformation following the Turkey-Syria earthquake in 2023.