Fact Check

New Plymouth Twister Photo

Photograph shows a tornado striking the coastal city of New Plymouth in New Zealand.

Published Jul 7, 2007

Claim:   Photograph shows a tornado striking the coastal city of New Plymouth in New Zealand.

Status:   False.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, July 2007]

Click to enlarge

Origins:   In early July 2007, several tornadoes struck the Taranaki region (on the west coast of the North Island) of New Zealand, causing millions of dollars worth of damage and leaving dozens of families homeless. Shortly afterwards, the above-displayed picture of a tornado striking that area's coastal town of New Plymouth began to circulate via e-mail and was used to accompany coverage of the story by several different television and web-based news outlets.

However, those sources quickly withdrew their use of the photo after discovering that it was a fabrication created by a local resident:

A New Plymouth woman has admitted creating the image of a tornado hitting New Plymouth, used on both TV One and TV3 news.

She said it was meant to be an in-house joke at her place of work.

She created the image as a "bit of fun" and was surprised the news organisations did not check its authenticity.

"It took two minutes to make and was so fudged it wasn't funny," the woman told the website

Last updated:   7 July 2007


  Sources Sources:

    Eames, David.   "Hoax Picture Puts Twist on Tornadoes."

    The New Zealand Herald.   7 July 2007.

    The [New Zealand] Press.   "Hold on Tight Taranaki — It's Not Over Yet."

    7 July 2007.

    The [New Zealand] Press.   "Fake Tornado Pic Embarrasses TV Newsrooms."

    6 July 2007.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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