Tuas fire explosion fake video (2017)

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A screengrab from the circulated video that claimed to be an "eyewitness recording" of the Tuas fire.

On 23 February 2017, an "eyewitness recording" of the fire at ECO Special Waste Management in Tuas, Singapore was circulated on Facebook and WhatsApp. The dramatic recording was later proven to be false documentation.

Details of incident

Real fire at 23 Tuas View Circuit

At 6.15 am on 23 February 2017, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responded to a fire call at 23 Tuas View Circuit. It was reported that tall plumes of thick black smoke filled the morning sky. The blaze at ECO Special Waste Management was extinguished after four hours.[1]

According to a live update from the SCDF’s Facebook page:[2]

“The fire involves chemical waste and flammable materials. Periodic explosions could be heard as firefighters battle the blaze to contain within the affected premises”. 

Details of fake video

Later on the same day, a video (YouTube video) claiming to be an eyewitness recording of the Tuas fire made its rounds on social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp.[3] The video that was circulated on Facebook came attached with captions like:

"Close up view of the Tuas explosion. Heart shattering."[4]

The 56-second video depicted an aerial view of what looks to be an industrial plant. Halfway through the video [timestamp: 0:30], the plant exploded in flames. Plumes of black smoke could be seen coming from the explosion site and exclamations in Mandarin could be heard in the background. The recording ended abruptly.

Confirmation of fake news

Singaporean news sites The Straits Times and Channel News Asia disproved the reliability of the video. Both sites highlighted the dubious origins of the video and the fact that the video had been circulated years before 2017.

The Straits Times

In a Facebook post and a news report, The Straits Times cautioned its readers and netizens about the fake video. The team at the local newspaper located exact copies of the video that had been posted in previous years. A 2015 YouTube upload of the video titled “Chinese gas plant explosion” was embedded in the article.[5][6][7]

Channel News Asia

Channel News Asia noted that the video had been uploaded on social media multiple times over the years with conflicting titles and location descriptions. Some examples are:[8]

  • “chemical plant explosion in Zhejiang, China”
  • “a nuclear blast in France”
  • “footage of a blast in Dombivali India”

This report points to the unclear origins of the video.

Video analysis

Left: A screengrab depicting the forested surroundings in the fake video. Right: A photo of the actual Tuas fire. Photo from Channel News Asia.
The aftermath photo of the Tuas fire (bottom) is missing some key structures depicted in the fake video (top).

Cross-referencing the fake video with the real-time documentation provided by the SCDF, there are striking differences in the surroundings of the explosion site and the structural landmarks.

Surrounding location

The plant in the fake video is depicted in an isolated and forested location. On the other hand, the Tuas plant is situated next to streets with neighbouring buildings clearly in sight.

Building structures

Some key structures are missing in the aftermath photos of the Tuas Fire. For one, the distinct tower-like structure depicted in the foreground of the fake video is not featured in the SCDF's documentation.

Continued circulation

There are no clear visual indicators in the video to ascertain the explosion's true location. Due to the vague nature of the video, it has been used time and again to illustrate explosions in various countries. In 2019, it continues to be circulated on social media platforms.

Vagueness of the video

An analysis of netizens' responses towards the 2017 fake video incident reveals the video’s misleading nature. On The Straits Times’ Facebook post, user “Marcus Wong” commented that the video was actually of a major explosion at Flamanville nuclear power plant in France. He substantiated his claim with a link to a tweet by a verified Twitter account called Vocal Europe.[9] The tweet had been posted on 9 February 2007. Upon reading the tweet, another user “David Hess” stated that “It’s most likely the BASF chemical plant in Germany” only to deny it later on.[10]


Some netizens even theorised that the explosion was not real, stating that it looked like a "controlled explosion" similar to that of "a film set".[11] However, most of the discussion revolved around conflicting claims of the video's true location.

2019 YouTube upload

On 21 March 2019, a video titled “Huge Explosion Chemical Plant in Jiangsu, China 2019” was uploaded onto YouTube (YouTube video). The first eight-seconds is a clipping of the fake video circulated in 2017. The rest of the 52-second video feature random clips depicting an array of explosions. The video’s description is as follows:[12]

“An explosion ripped through a factory in Yancheng City, Jiangsu Province, China. The explosion occurred at Tianjianyi Chemical”.

In the comments section, a netizen pointed out that the “first video is old spliced into this new accident. Don’t be fooled”.[13]

References / Citations

  1. Choo, Felicia and Kok Xing Hui. “Tuas fire put out after 4 hours, no casualties reported, cause of fire under investigation: SCDF”. The Straits Times. February 23, 2017. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fire-breaks-out-at-tuas-view-circuit-public-advised-to-avoid-the-area
  2. Singapore Civil Defence Force. “Fire @ 23 Tuas View Circuit”. Facebook. February 22, 2017. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from Facebook.
  3. “Tuas fire: Fake video spreads like wildfire on social media”. Channel News Asia. February 23, 2017. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from:https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/tuas-fire-fake-video-spreads-like-wildfire-on-social-media-7607702
  4. Chew Hui Min. “Fake video of Thursday’s Tuas fire explosion spreads on social media”. The Straits Times. February 23, 2017. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fake-video-of-tuas-fire-explosion-spreads-on-social-media
  5. Chew Hui Min. “Fake video of Thursday’s Tuas fire explosion spreads on social media”. The Straits Times. February 23, 2017. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/fake-video-of-tuas-fire-explosion-spreads-on-social-media
  6. Jeremy Au Yong. “When a real fire and a fake video collide”. The Straits Times. February 26, 2017. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/whatstrending-when-a-real-fire-and-a-fake-video-collide
  7. The Straits Times. “Untitled”. Facebook. February 23, 2017. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/TheStraitsTimes/posts/10154190419222115
  8. “Tuas fire: Fake video spreads like wildfire on social media”. Channel News Asia. February 23, 2017. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/tuas-fire-fake-video-spreads-like-wildfire-on-social-media-7607702
  9. The Straits Times. “Untitled”. Facebook. February 23, 2017. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/TheStraitsTimes/posts/10154190419222115
  10. Vocal Europe. "BREAKING | Major Explosion at #Flamanville nuclear power plant in #France. The reason of the explosion is not known yet.".Twitter. February 9, 2017. Accessed on 8 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://twitter.com/thevocaleurope/status/829703907274276865
  11. “Chinese gas plant explosion…”. Ahmed Treiban. November 18, 2015. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from YouTube.
  12. This Week in China. “Huge Explosion Chemical Plant in Jiangsu, China 2019”. YouTube. March 21, 2019. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuFqTUvJrTE
  13. This Week in China. “Huge Explosion Chemical Plant in Jiangsu, China 2019”. YouTube. March 21, 2019. Accessed 4 October 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuFqTUvJrTE