Video of Russia dropping thermobaric bombs on Ukraine is from China

The video depicts blasts in Tianjin, China in 2015.

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Claim: A video circulating on social media shows Russia dropping a thermobaric or vacuum bomb on civilian areas in Ukraine.

Fact: The video is in fact from 2015 and depicts a deadly blast in the Chinese port city of Tianjin.

Fact or Fiction?

On 10 March 2022, Facebook user Habib Khan Meryani shared a video with an Urdu caption claiming that the video shows Russia dropping a powerful thermobaric or vacuum bomb on civilian areas in Ukraine. The caption also claims that the bomb is the second most dangerous in the world after the atomic bomb and that its use has been banned.

The one-minute thirty-one second long video shows an explosion and a huge orange fireball rising into the sky. People off-camera can be heard saying “oh my God”, “are you filming”, “yes I am filming”, “let’s go down”, and “come on”.

Soch Fact Check conducted a Google Reverse Image search and found that the video was featured in a 2015 BBC News report titled, “Video captures fear of China blast eyewitnesses.”

“Footage of two massive explosions in the Chinese city of Tianjin, taken by a stunned eyewitness, captured the fear and terror of those who saw what happened,” the article reads.

The article also states that the explosions were a result of a warehouse owned by a company specialising in handling hazardous goods catching fire. The video was filmed by eyewitness Dan van Duren.

Other media outlets and agencies including The Guardian and NBC also reported the explosion in 2015. 

Soch Fact Check concluded that the claims that  the video depicts Russia dropping thermobaric bombs on Ukraine are false because the video is in fact of a deadly blast in the Chinese port city of Tianjin in 2015.

However, it is pertinent to note that in a 9 March 2022 tweet, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said that, “The Russian MoD has confirmed the use of the TOS-1A weapon system in Ukraine. The TOS-1A uses thermobaric rockets, creating incendiary and blast effects.” 

This may explain the resurgence of the video with the claim that it shows Russia using thermobaric weapons in Ukraine. 

Virality

According to a CrowdTangle analysis conducted by Soch Fact Check, the search term “روس طاقتور ترین حرارتی بمب یوکرین” turned up 29 posts on Facebook which received 27 interactions over the 30-day period leading up to 22 March 2022.

The claim was also picked up by a handful of Facebook pages, including here, here, here, here, here and here.

Habib Khan Meryani’s post received 5 likes, 30 shares and 328 views, while a post shared by  پشتون قبائل جرگه has been viewed more than 500 times.  Jinnah News Jacobabad’s post gained 1,000 views.

The video was also shared on multiple groups on Facebook, including here, here and here, among others.

Conclusion: The video in question does not show Russia dropping a thermobaric or vacuum bomb on civilian areas in Ukraine. In fact, it shows a deadly blast in the Chinese port city of Tianjin in 2015.

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