Photo does not show Pakistan Army helicopter that crashed in Balochistan

Image is from 2021 when a military helicopter crashed in Siachen

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Claim: A photo shows the wreckage of a Pakistan Army helicopter that was carrying six passengers, including 12 Corps Commander Lieutenant General Sarfraz Ali, to Balochistan’s Lasbela for flood relief operations and crashed on 1 August.

Fact: The image is not related to the 1 August crash but is, in fact, from another incident from 2021.

On 1 August 2022, Twitter user @mangat_shamshad shared a picture of a helicopter crash with the caption, “ڈی جی کوئٹہ جنرل سرفراز سیلاب متاثرین کی مدد کرتے ہوئے شہید ہو گئے [DG Quetta General Sarfaraz martyred while helping flood victims].”

On the evening of 1 August, a Pakistan Army helicopter carrying six passengers including Lieutenant General Sarfraz Ali — the commander of 12 Corps, also known as XII Corps or Quetta Corps — went missing en route to Balochistan’s Lasbela flood relief operations. Aboard the chopper were Coast Guards Director-General Brigadier Amjad, pilot Major Syed, co-pilot Major Talha, Engineer Brigadier Khalid, and Chief Naik Mudassir. On 2 August, police confirmed that the remains of the copter have been found.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check investigated the source of the image using reverse image search tools as some social media users flagged the photo as misleading.

We found that the image was published on 6 December 2021 by Dawn.com in another report from 2021, titled, “Two army pilots martyred as helicopter crashes in Siachen: ISPR.” The image was sourced to the Pakistan Army’s media wing, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).

A larger, uncropped version of the same image was shared by anchorperson Wajahat Kazmi and Twitter user @soldierspeaks on 6 December 2021; it was also posted to the History of PIA forum on the same date.

Therefore, Soch Fact Check concludes that the image is not recent nor related to the Pakistan Army helicopter crash of August 2022 in Lasbela, Balochistan.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the one-day period from 1 August to 2 August, with the ‘photos-only’ filter applied, using the following search terms:

  • “pakistan army helicopter”
  • “pak army helicopter”
  • “ہیلی کاپٹر [helicopter]”
  • “پاکستان آرمی ہیلی کاپٹر [pakistan army helicopter]”
  • “پاک فوج ہیلی کاپٹر [pak military helicopter]”
  • “ہیلی کاپٹر بلوچستان”

The first and second search terms turned up close to 300 posts with nearly 57,000 interactions and 45 posts with 3,989 interactions.

The third search term was fairly generic and did not exclusively contain the photo in question. It gained 367,776 interactions across 2,817 posts.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth search terms turned up 303, 446, and 1,596 posts with 28,131 interactions, 35,182 interactions, and 119,523 interactions, respectively.

The image with misleading captions connecting it to the August 2022 crash can be found on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, as well as military-focused pages such as this and this.

Soch Fact Check also found the image here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here on Twitter, with two of the earliest posts here and here, as well as a post by Twitter user @JaiRam92739628, who shares “conflict news around the world”.

The photo also appeared on two websites here and here.

Conclusion: The image is not related to the August 1 crash but is, in fact, from another incident from 2021.

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