No, this video does not show the tsunami in Indonesia

Does this video show the tsunami that struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi on Friday, September 28, as claimed by multiple websites and social media pages? No: it was actually filmed during the tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, which triggered the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

“Indonesia. Few seconds before Tsunami & when it hits” says the post shared Friday on Twitter, which had been retweeted nearly 20,000 times by Wednesday.

Screenshot taken on October 9, 2018 of the viral tweet Screenshot taken on October 9, 2018 of the viral tweet

Several news outlets (including in Italy and India) also shared the video, claiming that it showed the tsunami that devastated the Indonesian island of Sulawesi 10 days ago, resulting in more than 2,000 deaths.

According to an InVID search, the video actually shows the tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, triggering the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and resulting in 19,000 deaths or disappearances.

The account that posted the viral tweet said on Tuesday that the video it shared is of Japan, not Indonesia, but this correction was only retweeted 40 times.

According to this CCTV footage posted to YouTube, the video shows the wave devastating the neighborhood of Osawa in Yamada, a town in northeast Japan. The Japanese text at the bottom of the image also specifies the location.

We were able to verify the location due to a set of indicators visible in the video:

Screenshot of the video that supposedly showed the tsunami on the Indonesian island of SulawesiScreenshot of the video that supposedly showed the tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi

1 - the white stripe on the road

2 - the smaller white stripe perpendicular to the first one

3 - the two different surface materials on the right-hand sidewalk

4 - the white stripes forming a curve

5 - the presence of a possible path or small canal

6 - the two-colored house

7 - the house with the yellow roof

8 - the intersection

A search on Google Maps in satellite view allowed us to identify an intersection in the town that had all of these different indicators:

Satellite view (via Google Maps) of the Osawa neighborhood of YamadaSatellite view (via Google Maps) of the Osawa neighborhood of Yamada (Google )

Using Google Street View, the resemblance became even clearer. In the following image, dated November 2011 (eight months after the tsunami), we found five of the indicators listed above:

View (Google Street View) from November 2011View (Google Street View) from November 2011

Finally, a Google Earth satellite image from August 8, 2010 (seven months before the tsunami) allowed us to find the house with the yellow roof (7) and the small path or canal (4).

This was enough to confirm that the original video shows a tsunami touching down in Yamada, and not on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Satellite view (via Google Earth) on August 8, 2010Satellite view (via Google Earth) on August 8, 2010

As can be seen in the original video, the neighborhood was completely destroyed by the tsunami. Here is a satellite image from March 14, 2011, three days after the catastrophe:

Satellite view (via Google Earth) on March 14, 2011Satellite view (via Google Earth) on March 14, 2011

The neighborhood has since been mostly rebuilt, as shown by the most recent satellite image of the area available on Google Earth, dated October 24, 2017.

Satellite view (via Google Earth) on October 24, 2017Satellite view (via Google Earth) on October 24, 2017
Rémi Banet
Tori Otten