The claim: There have been a total of six massive explosions within the last 24 hours
A massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 135 people and wounding thousands. Ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material that was confiscated from a ship several years ago and stored at a local port, is believed to have been the culprit, according to the Lebanese General Security Directorate.
In the wake of the devastation, a claim that five other explosions also occurred within 24 hours of one another is circulating social media.
"A total of 6 massive explosions within 24 hours. Something is not right. Get right with God now!" reads a Facebook post published Aug. 5. Accompanying the post is an image of the Beirut explosion and five others allegedly in Hyesan, North Korea; Wuhan, China; United Arab Emirates; Najaf, Iraq; and St. Paul, Minnesota.
The image, shared by evangelical preacher Shana Joseph, among many others, has been shared nearly 900 times and garnered more than 200 reactions, with commenters expressing shock and dismay.
"These are real attacks of massive destruction," writes one Facebook user.
"Truly, we're living in last days," comments another.
USA TODAY is awaiting comment from Joseph.
United Arab Emirates
According to Arab news outlet the National UAE, a fire broke out in the Ajman area on Aug. 5.
"The fire is believed to have started at a Iranian souq in the emirate at about 6.30 p.m. on Wednesday," writes reporter Salam Al Amir.
There were no causalities noted as the souq – or market – had been shut down for several months because of COVID-19 and a nearby medical center was evacuated as a precaution once the smoke became visible. The fire was brought under control once local authorities arrived.
It is unknown how the incident started but an investigation is expected, according to the state-operated Emirates News Agency.
Hyesan, North Korea
On Monday, black plumes of smoke were seen rising from a North Korean city near the Chinese border.
“Neither North Korean officials nor state media have commented on the blasts, which reportedly occurred late Monday in a residential area in the city of Hyesan,” reported William Gallo for Voice of America.
Videos of the incident were obtained by the Associated Press from a Seoul, South Korea, based nonprofit news organization called Daily NK. The authenticity of the videos has not been confirmed.
Daily NK, which relies on anonymous sources across North Korea, claims the initial blast was caused by a gas leak in a home, which exploded a liquid petroleum gas cylinder. A chain reaction set off as many as 10 other explosions in nearby houses.
Daily NK claims the blast killed as many as 15 people but that figure has not been confirmed. North Korean state media has made no mention of the incident, and South Korean officials said they could not immediately confirm the reports, according to Reuters.
Arabic-language news outlets and others in Pakistan report that a fire broke out in a city south of Baghdad known as Najaf on Wednesday.
“According to the correspondent of the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) in Najaf Ashraf ... the food and electrical storages of 'Al Quds' in the south of the province caught fire,” reported Shafaqna, also known as International Shia News Association.
USA TODAY is awaiting comment from the Iraqi News Agency for verification of this story, as it could not be found on the agency’s website nor reported by any other major Arab news outlets.
The image pictured in the Facebook post, however, does not appear to be an image of the alleged fire from Najaf but a zoomed-in screenshot of the UAE fire as seen in the video posted on YouTube.
A flash explosion occurred at a chemical factory in China’s Hubei province on Monday.
Video of the explosion was captured not in the province’s capital of Wuhan, but Xiantao, a neighboring city. Thick black smoke can be seen rising out of the building and into the sky after the explosion.
South China Morning Post reports at least six people were killed and four injured. The factory had been suspended for rectification and the incident is being investigated, according to local reports.
St. Paul, Minnesota
A large fire engulfed the Seven Corners Gateway site, an apartment building and hotel complex construction in downtown St. Paul, on Tuesday morning.
There were no causalities reported and it is unknown the exact cause of the fire. Because of the size of the construction site and large amount of damage, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will be sending members of its National Response Team to St. Paul to investigate.
The image used in the Facebook post does appear to be a screenshot of footage taken of the incident.
Our ruling: Partly false
We rate the claim that Beirut explosion and five other blasts occurred across the world within 24 hours of one another as PARTLY FALSE because some of it is not supported by our research. Aside from the Beirut explosion, only an explosion in the city of Xiantao, China, outside of Wuhan is confirmed. An explosion is speculated to have happened in Hyesan, North Korea, but not confirmed by North or South Korean officials. The other images shown depict fires, although the image from Najaf is actually a zoomed-in shot of the UAE fire. While the Najaf fire is mentioned in some local Arab media outlets and others in Asia, USA TODAY has yet to confirm whether it actually occurred. The timing of some of these events are not within 24 hours of one another, with events stretching between Monday and Wednesday.
Our fact-check sources:
- USA TODAY, "What we know about the massive explosion in Beirut that killed at least 135, injured thousands"
- The National, "Huge fire breaks out in Ajman"
- WAM, “Ajman Souq fire brought under control, no causalities reported"
- Voice of America, “North Korean Border City Rocked by Apparent Deadly Explosion”
- Reuters, “Videos show explosion in North Korean town: reports”
- Shafaqna, “Fire in food and electrical storages in Najaf + Photos”
- Daily Times, "Fire in food and electrical storages in Najaf"
- Yahoo News, “Chemical factory explodes in central China, killing six”
- South China Morning Post Clips, “At least six killed in a factory explosion in China’s Hubei province”
- Associated Press, “Firefighters battle large fire in downtown St. Paul”
- Star Tribune, “Special ATF team in St. Paul to help determine cause of construction project fire”
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Meme showing 6 global blasts in a day is not entirely true