Video of people riding fallen tree down flooded street shot in Colombia, not Sri Lanka

A clip from Colombia of two people cruising along a flooded street on an uprooted tree has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook alongside a false claim it was shot in Sri Lanka. AFP geolocated the video to the Colombian port city of Barranquilla.

"Kandy roads flooded by heavy rains. Some are inventing new water sports to be played on fallen trees," reads the caption of the video shared here on Facebook on October 15, 2023.

The 23-second clip, which has been viewed more than 660,000 times, shows two people standing on an uprooted tree as it drifts along a flooded street.

The word "Kandy" -- a city in central Sri Lanka -- appears at the video's seven-second mark (archived link).

Screenshot of the false post taken on October 15, 2023

Several parts of Sri Lanka have been lashed by heavy rains from September, causing floods, triggering mudslides and downing trees as the deluge continued in early October, killing at least seven people (archived links here, here and here).

The same video alongside a similar claim was shared elsewhere on Facebook here and here; it also spread on WhatsApp, as seen below:

Screenshot of a forwarded WhatsApp message sharing the false claim

However, the clip was in fact shot during flooding in Colombia, not Sri Lanka.

Colombia floods

A reverse image search on Google found the same video posted here on TikTok on October 13, 2023 captioned with the hashtags "Barranquilla" and "heavy rains" (archived link).

Spanish-language sticker text reads: "Barranquilla and its curiosities."

Barranquilla is a port city in Colombia. Local media reported it was hit with heavy rain and wind on October 12, causing floods and uprooting trees (archived links here and here).

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video that appears in the false posts (left) and the clip on TikTok (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video that appears in the false posts (left) and the clip on TikTok (right)

Further searches found other posts on X, formerly Twitter, stating the clip took place in Barranquilla here and here (archived links here and here).

A white road marker with the words "41 Calle" and "40 CRA" can be seen at the clip's 10-second mark. "Calle" means "street" in Spanish, while "CRA", or "carrera" translates as "avenue".

Using these address markers, AFP was able to geolocate the clip using Google Street View.

Below are screenshot comparisons of scenes in the video in the social media posts (left) and the location on Google Street View (right), with corresponding features marked by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the video (left) and Google Street View (right), with corresponding features marked by AFP.

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