Image claiming to show recent Kabul evacuation is an old Philippines photo

Sanjog Shiwakoti / August 18, 2021

A viral Facebook post by former secretary Bhim Upadhyaya.

In a dramatic development this week, the armed radical Islamic group Taliban took over Afghanistan. Soon after the Taliban entered Kabul, the capital, on Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country while panicked foreign diplomatic staff, officials of foreign organizations, and civilians continue to leave the country. Amid the chaos and exodus, a picture of mass evacuation is being widely shared on social media claiming it is a recent picture from Afghanistan.

The photo, which has been claimed to show Indian nationals rescued from Kabul, is actually of the 2013 US Air Force rescue in the Philippines, which was hit by a typhoon.

Bhim Upadhyaya, a former secretary at the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation, who has more than 200,000 followers on Facebook, had posted the picture on August 16, claiming that “India has brought back 800+ Indian nationals from Kabul today.” The post has received more than 3,500 responses and 78 shares. The photo along with the same claim, posted by the Rabi Lamichhane Fan Club, a Facebook page with more than 92,000 followers, has received 192 responses and eight shares. Similarly, the same claim and the photo posted by the Facebook page ‘E-learning for Students’, which has more than 39,000 followers, has received 280 responses and five shares.

With the same claim, the photo has also been tweeted from a Twitter handle @sujankdk. In addition, some social media users have shared screenshots of Upadhyaya’s post. Many users seem to have believed the claim, while others have questioned it on the comment section.

A post on a Facebook page named ‘Rabi Lamichhane Fan Club.’


South Asia Check ran a ‘reverse image search’ of the photo and found the same image on the US Air Force’s official website. The photo was taken by US Air Force Sergeant Ramon Brockington in the Philippines while evacuating 670 Tacloban residents displaced by the 2013 super typhoon ‘Haiyan’ to the capital Manila. The typhoon in 2013 affected 14 million people and killed more than 6,000 in the Philippines. Hence, it is clear that the image of 2013 typhoon rescue operation in the Philippines was misleadingly presented as one from Afghanistan.

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