Compilation of disaster videos does not show Cyclone Hidaya hitting Tanzania

Cyclone Hidaya made landfall in Tanzania on May 4, 2024, following weeks of torrential rain in East Africa that caused devastating floods in the region. On the same day, a video was posted online along with a claim that the footage showed the cyclone as it struck Tanzania. But the claim is false; digital investigations revealed the video comprises various clips of weather disasters in the United States and China, as well as segments of doctored footage of whirlwinds and lighting.

On May 4, 2024, this X post shared a video that appeared to show violent storms in four different locations.

“This is Cyclone Hidaya hitting Tanzania,” reads the post. “To all Kenyans in Mombasa Coast, you should avoid the Indian Ocean shores and take caution. May God Protect our fellow Kenyans.”

A screenshot of the false post, taken on May 8, 2024

The first part of the video features a raging whirlwind behind a tall building accompanied by lightning.

The footage switches to what looks like a bus station where people are trying to shelter from a downpour and strong winds. The next two clips in the compilation show a tempest lifting objects off the ground.

The video has been viewed more than 190,000 times and reposted over 250 times.

On Facebook, the same claim appeared in a post shared more than 500 times.

“Cyclone Hidaya has finally reached Tanzania from Indian Ocean leaving behind a trail of destruction in its wake,” reads the caption.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post, taken on May 8, 2024

The claim was repeated in other Facebook posts (see here, here and here) and on X.

The same video compilation has been shared in posts claiming to show stormy weather in Dubai.

Cyclone Hidaya

Early in May, Kenya and Tanzania were on high alert after weather reports predicted Tropical Cyclone Hidaya would bring more misery after torrential rains had devastated the East African region, killing hundreds of people and forcing tens of thousands from their homes (archived here).

The cyclone was predicted to land on May 4, 2024, the same day the posts started circulating.

Hidaya made landfall as projected, but the Tanzania Meteorological Department said it had "completely lost its strength" after reaching Mafia Island in the Indian Ocean and was no longer a threat to the country (archived here).

About a week later, Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told Parliament that five people were killed when the cyclone landed and more than 2,000 houses destroyed, according to local reports (archived here).

However, the video purported to show Hidaya making landfall and bringing devastation is false.

Unrelated disasters

Using video verification tool InVID-WeVerify, AFP Fact Check conducted multiple reverse image searches to trace the videos shared in the false post.

The opening footage that featured the dramatic whirlwind and lighting was found on a YouTube channel called “Tornado Tracker”.

In the YouTube video (archived here), the whirlwind and lighting were absent, and the video was sharper - an indication the post we are debunking was digitally manipulated.

A screenshot of the YouTube video, taken on May 9, 2024

“Full recap of our chase during Hurricane Matthew from Melbourne, FL and Jacksonville Beach, FL on October 6-7, 2016. Includes footage of very strong wind, storm surge, and blowing debris,” reads the description of the video uploaded on October 8, 2016.

A search of the street name in the caption on Google Maps pinpointed the area (here) which we matched with the same landmarks.

A screenshot comparing the landmarks on the false post (left), Google Maps (centre) and the YouTube video (right)

A further search also revealed the same video on Adobe Stock (archived here) but without dramatic whirlwind or lighting behind the buildings.

A screenshot of the footage on Adobe Stock, taken on May 13, 2024

The second clip of a heavy downpour at what appears to be a bus station was located on a Chinese news website (archived here) where it was published on July 25, 2023.

A screenshot comparing the video in false post (left) and one on a Chinese news website (right)

According to the caption, the video was captured in Taihang Mountain Grand Canyon in Shanxi, located in northern China.

“A storm hits Taihang Grand Canyon in Shanxi province, hundreds of tourists huddle for safety,” reads the caption in Chinese.

We also located a similar video of tourists at Taihang Mountain Grand Canyon lining up in the same shelter as the one in the storm video. It was published on Xiaohongshu (archived here), a Chinese social media platform.

A screenshot of the post on a Chinese social media platform, taken on May 13, 2024

While we are yet to locate the last two clips in the false post, this YouTube video published on September 13, 2023, featured both and claimed the scenes were filmed in Morocco -- eight months before Cyclone Hidaya was predicted to roll towards Tanzania and Kenya.

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