This video has circulated since 2015 in reports about an aerosol explosion in Saudi Arabia

Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved.

A video of a fire erupting inside a vehicle has been viewed hundreds of times on Facebook, Twitter and on messaging app Line in March 2020 alongside a claim it shows an explosion that was sparked by an alcohol-based disinfectant used during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The claim is false; the video has circulated in media reports about a car explosion in Saudi Arabia since at least 2015, almost five years before the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019.

The 15-second video was shared on Line on March 18, 2020.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading message:

Screenshot of misleading Line message

The accompanying Thai-message translates to English as: “These days, there are many people using alcohol spray to kill COVID-2019. But the locations where you shouldn’t use it are in the car and kitchen, otherwise it will be like this.”

The global death toll from COVID-19 is more than 16,000 according to World Health Organization (WHO) data published on March 25. 

The same video was also published alongside a similar claim on Facebook here and Twitter here.

The claim is false.

A Google reverse image search using keyframes extracted from the video found that it was published on YouTube here on September 1, 2015.

The video is titled “Young Saudis catch fire because of a spray inside a car”. It has been viewed more than 47,000 times.


Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading posts (L) and the YouTube video (R):

Screenshot comparison of the misleading video (L) and the screenshot comparison of the YouTube video (R)

The car fire was also reported in this article published by Eyptian news site akhbarak.net on September 1, 2015. The report’s Arabic headline translates to English as “‘Video’ Watch the moment of an explosion inside the car due to a lighter and a spray”.

The report’s first paragraph states: “There was a video of young Saudi men in a car where a spray leaked in the car, and one of them lit a lighter which resulted in a fire that spread across all parts of the car and burned them.”

The report also embedded this YouTube video, which shows the same footage as seen in the misleading posts. It is titled; “The moment of fire inside the car and the burning of passengers due to lighter and spray”.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading postso (L) and the video in the media report (R):

Screenshot comparison of the misleading video (L) and video in the media report (R)