These photos show victims of a deadly heatwave in 2015 that killed hundreds in Pakistan

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Three photos showing dozens of body bags have been shared thousands of times in multiple posts on Facebook which claim they show the bodies of COVID-19 victims in Pakistan. The claim is false; the photos in fact show covered corpses in Pakistan after a severe heatwave in 2015 that left hundreds dead.

The photos were shared more than 3,800 times after being published on Facebook here on April 20, 2020.

The post’s Chinese caption translates to English as: “Pakistan's coronavirus epidemic, corpses everywhere, sad to see Amitabha (pray emoji)”.

Amitabha” refers to a prominent buddha in east Asian Buddhism.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading Facebook post:

Screenshot of misleading Facebook post

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

The claim is false. 

A reverse Google image search found the first two pictures were taken by an AFP photographer after a deadly heatwave in June 2015, almost five years before the COVID-19 pandemic. The photos were published on AFP forum here and here.

The images show charity workers burying and offering funeral prayers for unclaimed victims of the extreme temperature in the Pakistani city of Karachi on June 26, 2015. At least 1,000 people were killed by the heat, AFP reported at the time.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of two of the pictures in the misleading Facebook post (L) and the original AFP photographs (R):

Side-by-side comparison of the picture in the misleading Facebook post (L) and the original AFP photograph (R)
Side-by-side comparison of the picture in the misleading Facebook post (L) and the original AFP photograph (R)

A reverse image search found the third photo shared in the misleading Facebook posts was published by the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) on June 22, 2015.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the picture from the misleading Facebook post (L) and the original EPA photograph (R):

Side-by-side comparison of the picture from the misleading Facebook post (L) and the original EPA photograph (R)

The photograph’s caption reads: “Rescue workers move the bodies of the victims of heatwave at a mortuary in Karachi, Pakistan, 22 June 2015. The death toll from a heatwave in Pakistan climbed to nearly 150 on 22 June, health officials said. More than 130 people have died in the southern port city of Karachi where the temperature was over 45 degrees Celsius on the weekend and no relief was expected on Monday, health official Ijaz Afzal said.”

CORONAVIRUS