These photos show a 2012 passenger plane crash in Myanmar’s Shan state

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Multiple photos showing the aftermath of a plane crash have been shared hundreds of times on Facebook in June 2020 alongside a claim that they show a Myanmar military aircraft that recently crashed near Rakhine state in western Myanmar. The claim is false; the photos in fact show a passenger plane that crash-landed in the southern Shan state, more than 300 km northeast of Rakhine.

The photos were published here on Facebook on June 8 and have been shared more than 800 times since. 

The Burmese caption of the post translates as: “A plane carrying heavy military weapons leading to Rakhine State crashed and burnt down to ashes. The military officers in the plane shot each other.”

A screenshot taken on June 11, 2020, of the misleading post by Facebook user MaGwi MaJap with photos numbered by AFP

The photos were also shared alongside a similar claim here on Facebook on June 9. 

However, the claim is false. 

A keyword search on Google found the third photo in the misleading post was published in this report by Burmese newspaper The Myanmar Times on December 31, 2012. 

A screenshot taken on June 12, 2020, of The Myanmar Times report published on December 31, 2012

The report, titled “Christmas Day tragedy for Myanmar's Air Bagan”, reads in part: “An Air Bagan plane carrying 71 people crashed and caught fire on landing at Heho on December 25, killing two people and injuring 11.” 

Air Bagan is a Burmese airliner headquartered in Yangon; Heho, a town located in Shan state, is more than 300 km northeast of Rakhine, according to mapping tool Map Developers

The photo was published in The Myanmar Times report with an AFP byline. A subsequent reverse image search found three of four photos in the misleading post were credited to AFP, and one of them published by Reuters.

First photo

The first photo was published here on AFP archive on December 15, 2012. 

The caption of the photo, which was released by Myanmar Police Force and distributed by AFP, states: “This photo taken on December 25, 2012 and released to AFP by Ye Zar Ni via the Myanmar Police Force shows smoke and flames rising from the scene of an Air Bagan passenger plane crash near Heho airport in Myanmar's eastern Shan state. The Myanmar ageing Fokker-100 plane carrying 65 passengers including foreign tourists crash-landed in eastern Shan state, leaving two people dead and 11 others injured, the airline and officials said. AFP PHOTO / Ye Zar Ni / Myanmar Police Force”.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the first photo in the misleading post (L) and the photo credited to AFP (R): 

Second photo

The second photo was published in this December 25, 2012, Reuters report titled “Two killed as passenger plane lands in Myanmar rice field”. 

The caption for the photo states: “Soldiers stand at the crash site of a Air Bagan plane in Heho December 25, 2020. REUTERS/Stringer". 

Below is a screenshot comparison of the second photo in the misleading post (L) and the Reuters photo (R):

Third photo

The third photo shows rescue personnel working on the crash site near Heho airport, according to the description here on AFP’s archive. The photo was distributed by AFP and released by the website for Burmese newspaper The Myawady Daily

Below is a screenshot comparison of the third photo in the misleading post (L) and the photo credited to AFP (R):

Fourth photo

The fourth photo, published by AFP here, also shows rescuers on the scene of the Air Bagan crash on December 25, 2012.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the fourth photo in the misleading post (L) and the AFP photo (R):