Video shows tanker blast in Brazil, not South Africa

Thousands of people die on South Africa’s roads every year. One of the country’s major hotspots is the Limpopo province, the scene of a horrific blast that killed 20 people in September 2023. Social media users shared a video claiming it showed a fuel tanker exploding on a stretch of highway about 100 kilometres from the border with Zimbabwe. But the claim is false: the footage is of a blast in northern Brazil.

“That Limpopo explosion that took place today is crazy. Hope everyone who was trying to help survived,” reads a post published on X on July 4, 2024.

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

A South African-based user shared the 12-second video showing flames billowing from a truck on the side of a highway before it explodes.

Social media users also posted the clip with the same claim on TikTok and Facebook, where it was viewed 84,000 times.

Screenshot of false post on Facebook, taken on July 8, 2024

South Africa’s northern Limpopo region has been the site of several deadly traffic accidents, including a fiery collision in September 2023 that left 20 people dead (archived here and here).

But the footage shows an explosion in northern Brazil, not South Africa.

Blast in Brazil

Using a reverse image search, AFP Fact Check found several news reports about a truck explosion in Brazil on July 4, 2024, featuring the same video used in the false post (archived here and here).

“Tanker truck explosion leaves six people injured in Para; see the exact moment,” reads the headline of a CNN Brazil article with the footage.

Para is a state in northern Brazil (archived here).

The same traffic cone, highway markings, and truck are visible in the video from CNN Brazil.

A comparison of the false post (left) and CNN article with highlighted boxes

According to the article, victims injured by the blast were taken to the hospital.

SBT Brazil, a local television news programme, reported some of its journalists were injured in the explosion (archived here).

“Tanker truck explosion in Para leaves SBT team injured,” reads the headline in Portuguese. 

SBT Brazil also shared a similar video of the blast taken from a different angle (archived here).

SBT Brazil reported that the explosion occurred on a highway between Paragominas and Ulianópolis, two cities in Para state.

AFP correspondents in Brazil confirmed the incident, saying the explosion took place on the BR-010 highway between the two cities.

Moreover, there are no recent South African media reports about a roadside explosion in Limpopo in July 2024. 

AFP Fact Check has contacted South African authorities for comment.

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