Misleading: These rescue photos do not show Vietnamese working for ‘illegal islands’ in the South China Sea

The crew members had been stranded on a grounded dredger for three days that had just completed a construction work in the Cua Viet channel.

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Claims and reach

On Oct. 15, 2020, a group of Chinese netizens known as Di Bar (帝吧), or Li Yi Bar, posted a series of photos showing Vietnamese crew members being rescued at sea on Weibo with a claim that they sailed out to the South China Sea to build “illegal islands.”

Original photos

Through reverse image search and keyword search, Annie Lab discovered that the pictures shown in the misleading Weibo post were actually published by several Vietnam news websites, including Báo MớiVietnam net and People’s Army Newspaper.

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Comparison of pictures from the misleading Weibo post (left) and pictures from Vietnam news sites (right). The Weibo account puts its own watermark on all images.
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Comparison of a picture from the misleading post(left) and a picture from the official website of the Vietnamese government(right)
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Google Map shows that the location of the sunken ship is a coastal area off Vietnam

Heavy casualties

The Vietnamese government said on Oct. 9 that torrential rains and heavy flooding in the central provinces and the Central Highlands caused deaths and damages to properties and sources of livelihood.

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