Old footage shared in fake reports of ‘waterspout’ in northern India in 2022

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Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Facebook and Twitter posts viewed thousands of times in July and August 2022 claim to show footage of a waterspout, essentially a tornado over water, spotted over India’s Ganges River in Uttar Pradesh. However, AFP found no official report of such a phenomenon during this period. The video has been circulating online since 2018 in stories of a waterspout in Maharashtra, more than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Uttar Pradesh.

The video has been viewed more than 1,300 times during a Facebook post shared on August 1, 2022.

The images appear to show a column of water being sucked skyward.

The Hindi message reads: “An incredible view of nature at Prayagraj. The water of the Ganges suddenly started to rise. Whoever saw it did not believe their eyes for a moment.”

Prayagraj is the official name of Allahabad, a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The message adds: “We have only ever seen water falling downwards and science also confirms this. Newton’s law of gravity applies to everything on Earth, but what happened in Prayagraj has put a question mark on all laws and theories.”

A screenshot of the misleading post captured on August 6, 2022

A waterspout is basically a tornado over water, according to Weather Fox. A waterspout becomes considered a tornado if it moves over land.

Tornadic waterspouts form during severe storms and grow downward, while fair-weather waterspouts — which are less dangerous — occur in relatively calm weather and move upward from the surface water, the United States National Weather Service Explain.

The video was also shared with a similar claim on Facebook here, here and here; and on Twitter here and here.

However, the claim is false.

A reverse image search found a video compilation showing a similar scene posted on YouTube on June 10, 2018.

The title of the video in Marathi language reads: “Stunning view from Nazare Dam to Purandar Taluka.”

The Nazare dam is located in Pune District in the state of Maharashtra, western India. Purandar Township is a sub-district of Pune.

Other keyword searches found a Newscast posted on YouTube by local media outlet Mumbai Tak on June 10, 2018.

The Hindi headline reads: ‘Tornado was observed at Purandar of Pune canton.”

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the fake posts (left) and the Mumbai Tak video (right).

Comparison of screenshots of the video in the fake messages (L) and the Mumbai Tak video (R)

A witness interviewed by the media — whose name is not given — can be heard saying in the video: “A rocket-like thing came from the sky and hit the surface of the water.

“It quickly turned into a cyclone and started shooting water like a pipe. We watched it for five minutes.”

Mumbai Tak’s report also includes an interview with the head of the Pune Department of Meteorology, Arvind Srivastava.

“You must have seen how cyclones tear leaves and little things off the ground. It’s a similar but more intense version,” he explains.

“The same way tornadoes pull things up from the ground, they pull water up.”

Srivastava said waterspouts had already been reported in Pune.

Pankaj Khelkar, the journalist who reported on the incident, told AFP the footage was filmed at Nazare Dam in Maharashtra.

Similar pictures of the Pune waterspout have been published by local media including here and here.

AFP found no official reports of a waterspout in Uttar Pradesh in July or August 2022.

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