No, this is not footage of a plane caught in a typhoon in China

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

As Typhoon Mangkhut smashed its way through southeast Asia, a video widely shared online appears to show a plane buffeted by violent winds doing a 360-degree turn at very low altitude before landing, with the passengers evacuated via emergency slides. But the video was the result of splicing together two separate pieces of footage, the first involving special effects and the second of a real incident.

Many websites claimed the footage showed a plane landing during a storm in Shenzhen, a metropolis that links Hong Kong to China’s mainland, at a time when Typhoon Mangkhut was wreaking havoc in the region.

Entitled “Dragon Air hit by typhoon in China ShenZhen”, one of the English versions of the 44-second video was shared at least 150,000 times and watched more than 11 million times.

The text was later modified, but the doctored video remained. 

To track down the origin of the first part of the video, AFP carried out a reverse search of several frames by using InVID

This quickly showed that the footage was taken before the typhoon, the most powerful storm this year, which made landfall in the Philippines before dawn on Saturday.

Then, using a more traditional method, we trawled through the comments and found a link to an identical video put online on June 14, 2017 by MeniThings, a production company specialising in digital special effects. 

The two videos are identical although the version now circulating online has been cut to a square format and with the quality visibly reduced.

Contacted by email, Aristomenis Tsirbas, the Greek-Canadian film director who runs MeniThings, told AFP that the first part of the video was "stolen copyrighted work - specifically my work. I created the shot for my Menithings YouTube channel, and it's entirely CGI (computer generated imagery)".

Concerning the second part of the video, in which passengers are evacuated from a plane by emergency slides, the footage relates to an incident on August 28 involving not Dragon Air but Beijing Capital Airlines, the aviation24 website reports.

The plane was damaged on landing in Macao and was then redirected to Shenzhen airport where it landed safely and the passengers were evacuated.

Footage of the incident was also tweeted by The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party.

And the logo on the plane’s tailfin can be clearly seen on the website of Beijing Capital Airlines. 

EDIT 20/09 : changes for Google referencing