Old video of Everest rescue falsely linked to Kenyan climber’s death

  • Published on May 29, 2024 at 15:40
  • Updated on May 31, 2024 at 11:02
  • 7 min read
  • By Mary KULUNDU, AFP Kenya
Nepali tourism officials confirmed that a Kenyan climber had died on Mount Everest after he went missing on May 23. Following the news of Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui’s death, social media posts started sharing a video claiming to show his body being retrieved by a helicopter. But the claim is false; the video is a year old and shows a rescue mission of an unnamed climber. Kirui’s family confirmed his body would remain on the mountain.

On May 26, 2024, a post on X shared a video of a helicopter transporting a person tethered to a rope from the heights of a snow-covered mountain.

“Body of Kenyan Climber Cheruiyot Kirui on Mount Everest. RIP CHAMP',” reads the caption. The post has been shared more than 600 times.

A screenshot of the false post on X, taken on May 27, 2024

The claim was repeated here on X, on Facebook (here and here) and in WhatsApp groups.

Kirui, 40, was attempting to scale Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen when he went missing alongside his Nepali guide Nawang Sherpa, 44, on May 23, 2024.

The next day, tourism officials confirmed (archived here) Kirui had died. His body was found close to the summit.

But posts claiming to show the Kenyan’s remains being retrieved from the world’s highest peak are false.

Rescue operation

Using the InVID-WeVerify verification plugin, we conducted a reverse image search on multiple keyframes and found the same clip on an Instagram account (archived here) called “mountain.trekking” published on May 24, 2023 – almost a year before Kirui died.

“Long line Rescue in Everest,” reads the caption.

Credit for the video in the post is given to high-altitude photographer Suman Gurung, who confirmed to AFP Fact Check he took the footage in 2023, saying it showed a Chinese climber.

AFP Fact Check was not able to confirm this climber's fate.

Kirui’s expedition company Seven Summit Treks told AFP Fact Check that “none of these videos are for the Kenyan climber rescue”.

On May 29, 2024, Kirui's family said they had decided to leave his remains on Everest because retrieving them would be too dangerous and put other lives at risk (archived here). Kirui fell into a crevasse 48 metres from the summit.

Kirui was an avid mountaineer who documented his hiking expedition on his Instagram page

He had already scaled peaks around the world, including Mount Kilimanjaro at 5,895 metres. 

Updated to include family statement confirming Kirui's body would remain on Everest
May 31, 2024 Updated to include family statement confirming Kirui's body would remain on Everest

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