No, this is not a video of a suicide attack in Yemen

Copyright © AFP 2017-2023. All rights reserved.

A video of people running from a building, with one of them engulfed in flames, has been viewed tens of thousands of times in Facebook posts that claim it shows a suicide attack at a mosque in Yemen in which 137 people died. The claim is false; the video actually shows a fire caused by a train crash in Egypt on February 27, 2019.

The 1 minute 36 second video appears in multiple Facebook posts, for example here where it has been viewed around 91,000 times since it was published on March 18, 2019, and here where it has been viewed more than 5,000 times since being published on March 17.

It shows people running and screaming in panic from a large smoke-filled hall, where at least one person appears to be fully on fire. 

Later in the footage, a child is seen crying for help on the floor while men try to extinguish flames with a cloth. Near the end of the video a stationary train is seen at on a platform with a huge fire in the background.

When translated, the Urdu-language caption on the posts says: “Ya Allah: Suicide attack in Yemen mosque. 137 martyred in attack.”

Below is a screenshot of one of the misleading Facebook posts:

Screenshot of one of the misleading Facebook posts

But the footage used in the misleading posts is from Egypt not Yemen.

A Google reverse image search using key frames obtained using verification tool InVID led to this Arabic-language article published by Saudi-owned media group Al-Arabiya on February 28, 2019.

Translated into English, the article’s headline says: “New tragedy from the death train… a video which tells the story of the six-year-old child Riwa".

The Al-Arabiya article contains an 11-sec video clip showing a child sitting on the floor, which matches the footage in the misleading Facebook posts' video between the timestamps 0:33 and 0:44.

The first paragraphs of the article say: "The train accident in Ramses central station which left 20 people dead and 40 injured on Wednesday [February 27] is still hurting Egyptians with moving human stories and heartbreaking tragedies."

Here is an AFP report on the February 27 fire at Cairo’s main Ramses railway station.

The image below compares screenshots of the video on the Al-Arabiya website (L) and screenshots from the false Facebook post (R):


Comparison between screenshots of the video on the Al-Arabiya website and screenshots from the false Facebook post

The Al-Arabiya report tells the story of the young girl in the video. The report says she was with her grandmother preparing to board a train when the accident happened and was left alone asking for her grandmother who is believed to be dead.

The same footage that appears in the misleading Facebook post was also uploaded to YouTube here on February 27, 2019. The caption says in Arabic: “New video shows the moment of the train accident in Ramses – horrific footage.”

AFP photographs taken on February 27 in the aftermath of the Cairo station fire contain some of the same distinctive details from the footage in the misleading Facebook posts.

For example, curved metal structures and a large skylight can be seen in the hall, and the pattern and colouring of the platform surface is the same, although it is not clear from which angle the footage has been taken.

These are highlighted in the image below comparing the AFP photos with screenshots from the YouTube video:

Comparison between the AFP photos and screenshots from the YouTube video

The story of the girl and her grandmother was featured in this report on the English-language site of Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.

They were also the subject of this broadcast by Egyptian TV station dmc, embedded below: