Fact Check

Turkey Earthquake: Watch Out for Old, Unrelated Photos

A picture of a dog lying down on rubble next to a hand was shot years before the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in early February 2023.

Published Feb 7, 2023

A child sits in front of a collapsed building following an earthquake on Feb. 7, 2023 in Afrin, Cinderes, Syria, a 7.8-magnitude quake that hit near Gaziantep, Turkey. (Photo by Ugur Yildirim / dia images via Getty Images) (Ugur Yildirim / dia images via Getty Images (Afrin, Cinderes, Syria on Feb. 7, 2023))
Image Via Ugur Yildirim / dia images via Getty Images (Afrin, Cinderes, Syria on Feb. 7, 2023)
A tweet shows four pictures from the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in early February 2023.

Only one of the four pictures is from the quake in question.

On Feb. 6, 2023, a Twitter user posted four pictures that were purportedly captured in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria on the same day. The caption of the tweet read, "Saddest pictures on internet today," and included hashtags for both countries.

As of this writing, The Associated Press (AP) was reporting more than 7,200 deaths. That number was expected to continue to rise.

There were plenty of pictures and videos that show the massive scale of the tragic devastation that resulted from the earthquake. However, only one of the pictures in this tweet was taken after the disaster occurred.

A tweet purported to show four pictures from the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in February 2023.Three of these photos were shot long before the February 2023 earthquake.

First, we recommend our guide on performing reverse image searches that details how to find the origins of a picture. Such tools often help journalists figure out if a photograph is unrelated to a recent natural disaster, such as the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria.

The Dog and the Child's Hand

First, the picture of the dog lying down on rubble next to what might have been a child's hand was available on iStock by Getty Images. The page said the photograph had originally been uploaded on Jan. 4, 2019, more than four years before the early 2023 earthquake.

The Turkish website Teyit.org published in January 2020 that the same picture of the dog had also misleadingly been posted in the past following other tragedies.

The picture was originally captured by Czeck photographer Jaroslav Noska and dated back to at least 2018. We weren't yet able to uncover the true origins of the picture. The Associated Press also couldn't find an original caption for the picture, but concurred that it was old and had nothing to do with the new earthquake.

The Crying Boy

The second picture of the boy bending his knees while crying with his hands over his face also was available on stock photo websites in the years before the 2023 earthquake. It was credited to photographer Hanna Zapylaieva.

One Twitter user corrected someone who posted the picture in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey, which resulted in that person deleting the tweet.

Another user used the old photograph in a new tweet. According to the tweet's stats, it was seen nearly 500,000 times in around 24 hours. The user appeared to have good intentions and tweeted that he sought to fundraise for victims of the new tragedy. Still, the picture was unrelated to the early 2023 earthquake.

A tweet purported to show four pictures from the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria in February 2023.This tweet had tens of thousands of engagements.

Both the photos of the dog and the crying boy were also included in a TikTok video that was on track to be viewed 100,000 times.

We weren't yet able to uncover the origins of when and where this picture was taken, but we know for sure that it predated the earthquake, as confirmed by an old page capture on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

The Old Man Holding Bread

As for the picture with the old man crying while holding bread, some sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that it had the appearance of being more than just a few years old.

According to the online Turkish newspaper T24, the picture was taken in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck Düzce, Turkey, on Nov. 12, 1999. The photographer was Abdurrahman Antakyalı.

At least 845 people died in the Düzce disaster, according to BBC.com.

The Woman Kneeling and Crying

The final picture in the tweet truly was captured in the aftermath of the early 2023 earthquake.

According to Getty Images, the photograph of the woman kneeling and crying was captioned as follows: "A woman cries as personnel conduct search and rescue operations in Diyarbakir, Turkiye after 7.7 and 7.6 magnitude earthquakes hits Turkiye's Kahramanmaras, on Feb. 06, 2023."

This picture was credited to photographer Esra Hacioglu Karakaya.


"Düzce Depremi'nin üzerinden 20 yıl geçti | Uzmanlar uyarıyor: İmar barışı kaçak yapılaşmayı olağanlaştırıyor." T24, 12 Nov. 2019, https://t24.com.tr/haber/duzce-depremi-nin-uzerinden-20-yil-gecti-uzmanlar-uyariyor-imar-barisi-kacak-yapilasmayi-olaganlastiriyor,847797.

Karakaya, Esra Hacioglu. "A Woman Cries as Personnel Conduct Search and Rescue Operations In..." Getty Images, 6 Feb. 2023, https://www.gettyimages.no/detail/news-photo/woman-cries-as-personnel-conduct-search-and-rescue-news-photo/1246847119.

"Live Updates | Turkey-Syria Earthquake Search Intensifies." The Associated Press, 7 Feb. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/politics-russia-government-turkey-middle-east-289196a793b1354f4e3be57f2afc890b.

Mulato, Abril. "Old Photos of Dogs in Rubble Spread after Quake in Turkey and Syria." The Associated Press, 6 Feb. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-dog-photos-earthquake-153786353166.

Noska, Jaroslav. "Dog Looking for Injured People in Ruins after Earthquake." iStock by Getty Images, 4 Jan. 2019, https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/dog-looking-for-injured-people-gm1089104002-292160653.

Saklıca, Emre İlkan. "Köpeklerin fotoğraflarının Elazığ ve güncel İzmir depreminden olduğu iddiası - Teyit." Teyit, 27 Jan. 2020, https://teyit.org/kopeklerin-fotograflarinin-elazig-depreminden-oldugu-iddiasi.

"Strong Earthquake Rocks Western Turkey near Duzce." BBC News, 23 Nov. 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-63724714.

Zapylaieva, Hanna. "Boy Crying among the Ruins Stock Photo." Adobe Stock, https://stock.adobe.com/images/boy-crying-among-the-ruins/265131626.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.

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