26 September 2023

Misleading: This video shows Yacyretá Dam in South America, not China’s Three Gorges Dam

The clip shows the Yacyretá Dam on the border between Argentina and Paraguay during a severe flood in 2014. It is not related to super typhoon Doksuri or the Three Gorges Dam.


Posts on Telegram and X (here, here and here), formerly known as Twitter, featured a video purportedly showing the Three Gorges Dam sustaining cracks following the recent super typhoon Doksuri that devastated Beijing and other areas in northern China.

The video in the posts shows fissures in the dam and raging water coming out of the spillway. The posts in Chinese claim, when translated to English, “The Three Gorges Dam in China is about to collapse.”

They go on to claim that:

“As the region has been hit by unprecedented rainfall, rumors are circulating in China that the Three Gorges, one of the country’s most important dams, won’t be able to sustain itself for much longer even though all the gates are open.”

“The hydroelectric gravity dam on the Yangtze River in China’s Hubei province is the largest power plant in the world with an installed capacity of 22.5 gigawatts.”

Similar claims in English were also posted on Reddit and X. The posts have been shared over a hundred times, and the video and its screenshots have garnered over 200,000 views across various platforms as of this writing.

While we cannot fact-check what will eventually happen to the Three Gorges Dam, we were able to verify that this video does not show the world’s largest hydroelectric plant in China.

The clip actually shows the Yacyretá Dam located on the Paraná River at the border of Argentina and Paraguay, which was jointly built by the two countries.

A reverse image search led to a blog article in Spanish published on June 11, 2014, talking about an opening of the Yacyretá floodgates following heavy rain that year.

The blog post contains a photo showing a structure with similar features to the dam seen in the misleading video. Further search on Google Maps led to several photos of the Yacyretá Dam in higher resolutions.

Comparison among the 2014 blog post, a picture on Google Maps, and a screenshot of the Telegram video

Aerial photos of the Three Gorges Dam clearly indicate its design does not look like the Yacyretá Dam, meanwhile.

Comparison of the Three Gorges Dam and the Yacyretá Dam from various angles (sources: BNAmericas, El Trebol Digital, Xinhua and Yicai Global)

A keyword search about Yacyretá Dam and the 2014 flood also led to a 2019 press release by the dam manager Entidad Binacional Yacyretá or Yacyretá Binational Entity, debunking a claim that it was leaking then, based on a 2014 video showing the dam sustaining major hydro pressure brought by severe floods that year.

On Aug. 9, Xinhua reported workers removed floating garbage off the upstream of the Three Gorges Dam. In the photos and a video about this news, boats are seen relatively steady on the water, and no strong current can be seen in the images.

The Three Gorges Dam has been a target of misinformation for many years. Annie Lab checked two similar claims in March and June of 2020.

Reuters has also debunked a similar claim that the Three Gorges Dam was about to collapse in 2021.

Super typhoon Doksuri dumped the highest amount of rainfall in China in 140 years, killing at least 21 people. There have been no reports, however, about the typhoon causing additional damage to the Three Gorges Dam.