Footage of Peru landslide falsely shared as Taiwan quake

A powerful jolt that struck Taiwan on April 3 caused landslides in the island's mountainous east. However, dramatic footage of vehicles crushed by rocks on a highway circulating on social media was in fact unrelated to the disaster. The video was filmed in Peru and surfaced online weeks before the quake, Taiwan's strongest in 25 years.

The dash-cam footage shows a huge boulder crash down from a slope and slam into a moving truck on a highway. More rocks hurtle down and appear to land on the vehicle filming.

"There are still people trapped in the mountains who haven't been rescued yet," reads a traditional Chinese post on social media platform X that shared the video on April 4, 2024.

"This earthquake is massive and I have friends who are homeless."

Latitude and longitude codes are seen at the bottom-left corner of the clip.

The X post was shared the day after a magnitude-7.4 earthquake hit Taiwan, killing at least 16 people and injuring more than 1,100.

Strict building codes and widespread disaster readiness were credited with averting an even bigger catastrophe.

But landslides around the epicentre Hualien still blocked tunnels and roads, making the mountainous terrain around the county difficult for rescuers to access survivors and victims.

Screenshot of the false post shared on social media site X, taken on April 10, 2024

The video was also shared in a Facebook post falsely linking it to the tremor, while a Taiwanese newspaper article falsely shared a screenshot of it.

Peru landslide

A Google reverse image search of the video and keyword searches found the footage in an article about a landslide in Peru in March -- one month before the Taiwan earthquake.

Peruvian newspaper La República reported that nobody was killed by the landslide, which caused significant damage to the highway (archived link).

"The incident seriously impacted two trucks travelling through the area, although fortunately, the gigantic rocks did not cause any human deaths," it says in Spanish.

"They only damaged the rear part of the vehicles, which prevented a greater tragedy."

The incident happened on March 2 on the Carretera Central highway in the San Mateo district of Huarochirí province, La República reported -- which is around 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of the capital Lima.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in false posts (left) and in La República's article (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video shared in false posts (left) and in La República''s article (right)

Peru's state broadcaster TV Perú also published the footage in various reports on the incident (archived link).

Google Street View images based on the latitude and longitude codes seen in the footage and the location mentioned in news reports confirm the video was filmed on Peru's Carretera Central highway.

Below is a screenshot comparison between the video (left) and Google Maps imagery of the highway (right), with similarities highlighted by AFP:

Screenshot comparison between the video (left) and Google Maps imagery of the highway (right), with similarities highlighted by AFP

Natural disasters often prompt a flurry of misinformation. AFP has debunked various false claims around the Taiwan earthquake here.

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