Misleading: This trash mountain is located in Indonesia, not China

The viral video shows one of the world’s largest landfills in Bantar Gebang in Bekasi on the outskirts of Jakarta in Indonesia.

A drone video showing excavators digging through a mountain of trash went viral in March on social media. Several tweets (here and here) claimed this “horrifying amount of trash” was a dumpsite in China and gained more than 120 likes and dozens of retweets.

However, the video actually shows a part of the Bantar Gebang landfill in Bekasi city of Indonesia.

A reverse image search resulted in many posts and websites pointing to the same footage, including this Reddit post on March 9, with a description saying “Bantar Gebang landfill, Jakarta, Indonesia.”

The vertically framed video suggested this could be sourced from Instagram, and a keyword search on the platform led to an Indonesian drone photographer Muhammad Ali Vikry’s Instagram profile.

The post is from the Instagram of Muhammad Ali Vikry.

On his profile, we found an identical reel but in higher resolution posted on Feb. 8.

This version has a discreet watermark on the right-hand side, which seems to have been cropped out from the social media posts.

This original reel is 55 seconds long, about 30 seconds longer than the 18-second version on Twitter.

A tiny watermark can be seen in the original Instagram reel.

The drone photographer wrote that the location of the landfill is “TPST Bantar Gebang, Bekasi.” TPST stands for “Tempat Pengelolaan Sampah Terpadu,” or Integrated Waste Management Site in English.

Annie Lab messaged the photographer for verification but did not receive any response by the time of publication.

The Bantar Gebang landfill has been featured by numerous media outlets including CGTN and Al Jazeera for being one of the largest dumpsites in Indonesia.

We cross-checked its location by comparing screenshots of the same video found on Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube with that of Google Maps’ street view.

Other than the same trail of excavators, a path stretched along the slope behind a row of trees could be identifiable (L to R: Twitter, Muhammad Ali Vikry on Instagram, YouTube, and Google Maps)

Bantar Gebang landfill is about 20 km away from Jakarta, the capital and the most bustling metropolis in Indonesia.

It reportedly collects 7,000 tons of rubbish each day, and is one of the largest refuse dumps in the country, according to Al Jazeera.

The New York Times also reported in April 2020 that many scavengers would come to the site, which is about the size of “200 football fields” and “more than 15 stories high,” in order to pick up recyclables to make a living.

The same video was also used in another misleading claim in February. It was falsely associated with Turkey’s earthquakes, but this claim has been debunked by the Turkish fact-checking organization Teyit.

AFP, meanwhile, also fact-checked the claim that linked the video to China.