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Fact Check-Footage shows tidal bore in Indonesia, not tsunami waves following volcanic eruption in Tonga

Video of a tidal bore in Indonesia has been miscaptioned online, with some users incorrectly claiming it shows a tsunami caused by a volcanic eruption off Tonga.

The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15 sending tsunami waves across the Pacific Ocean (here and here).

Thousands of social media users have since shared a 45-second clip showing a man running from waves on an undisclosed coastline, alleging it shows the Tongan tsunami. The video has been viewed 1.5 million times on Twitter (here) and 600,000 times on Facebook (here).

“Massive undersea volcano erupted in Pacific nation of #Tonga yesterday which caused devastating #Tsunami waves crashing across shore and people rushing to higher ground,” a Twitter user said in a tweet alongside the miscaptioned video.

However, the video is not related to the tsunami in Tonga.

Reuters traced the video back to a YouTube upload on Dec. 6, 2021 (here) - more than a month earlier.

The full clip was uploaded in a high quality and is over three minutes long. It is one of many videos uploaded to the channel that have been dated and show people running from waves in the same location.

Responding to questions in the comments section of the Dec. 6 upload, the channel owner said the clip had been filmed by his younger brother on Ogis Beach, along the Kampar River, in Indonesia. He said it showed the moment that a tidal bore hit the shore.

Tidal bores are surges that occur when strong tides push against the current (here). According to Britain’s National Tidal and Sea Level Facility, the result is “a distinct, sometimes very vigorous wave” (here).

Such a phenomenon can be viewed off Ogis Beach on the Kampar River (bit.ly/3Ib1PDD).

VERDICT

Miscaptioned. The video was filmed at least a month before the volcanic eruption off the coast of Tonga.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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