Editor’s note: The story contains graphic content. This story was updated on March 23. The creator of the original video contacted VERIFY and confirmed ownership.
A China Eastern Boeing 737-800 with 132 people on board crashed in southern China on March 21. The Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement the crash occurred near the city of Wuzhou.
China Eastern’s flight No. 5735 had been traveling at around 30,000 feet when suddenly, just after 2:20 p.m. local time, the plane entered a deep dive and crashed. Chicago-based Boeing Co. said it was aware of the initial reports of the crash and was “working to gather more information.”
Across social media, a video with more than 400,000 views (archived links here, here and here) claims to show the last moments recorded from inside the plane before it crashed. In the video, people can be heard screaming before the plane crashes.
Is this viral video from inside a plane from the China Eastern crash?
No, this video is not from the China Eastern crash. The video being shared on Twitter is a simulation of the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines B737 crash.
WHAT WE FOUND
Using InVID, a video forensics tool, VERIFY took a single frame from the purported crash video to compare to previous videos published online. Then, we used the reverse image search tool RevEye to track that frame back to a video published to YouTube in 2019 of a simulation of a deadly Ethiopian Airlines B737 crash.
In 2019, a Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from the capital of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. The clip that went viral on March 21 was lifted from the simulation of that crash and can be seen starting at around the 9:25 mark.
The beginning of the YouTube video says: “This simulation crash is made with x-plane 11 flight simulator [XP11]. This is not exactly what happened, this is only a simulated flight crash for Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302. This story is based on real happening [sic].”
The simulation was posted by an account that posts plane crash simulations. Bull Bosphorus, the YouTube account holder, reached out to VERIFY on March 23 and confirmed they created the video. In the email to VERIFY, they said: "It is terrible to hear that my video is being abused by someone else. I published this video in 2019 under the name Ethiopian plane crash with about 34 million views, and not China plane crash. These images that are newly published are not real."
The Ethiopian Airlines logo can be seen on the plane’s wing in the viral video and matches the logo seen in the YouTube video.
On March 17, China Eastern Airlines posted a photo of one of the planes that clearly shows one of the plane designs and does not match the plane seen in the viral video.
On March 21, rescue operations were underway in southern China and there was still no word of survivors. Boeing said in a statement that the company is in contact with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and is prepared to assist with the investigation led by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.