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Fact Check

AFP
October 30, 2019

Fact-check: ‘American rioters’ burn subway train?

Fact Check

AFP
Wed, Oct 30, 2019

A video has been viewed tens of thousands of times on Facebook alongside a claim that “American rioters” have set fire to a subway train. The claim is false; the video shows a burning train in Chile, not the United States; media reports stated the train was set alight during protests over a transport fare hike.

The 10-second video was published here in a Facebook post on October 21, 2019.

It has been viewed more than 75,000 times and shared more than 2,100 times.

The caption, written in a mix of traditional and simplified Chinese characters, translates to English as: “[Train]

American rioters don't want to miss out,

set fire to a subway train!”

Below is a screenshot of the misleading Facebook post:

The Facebook user lists themselves as based in Hong Kong.

In recent weeks, Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters have been vandilising the city's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations. The protesters have accused MTR Corp of colluding with Hong Kong police, as reported here by Time magazine on October 25, 2019.

The video has been shared in a misleading context; it shows a burning train in Chile, not the US.

A reverse image search on Google for a screenshot from the video found it was filmed in Elisa Correa station, Santiago Metropolitan Region, Chile.

The same 10-second video was published on Twitter here on October 19, 2019.

The tweet states: “While more metro stations, trains, bus stops and shops are burning in #SantiagoChile (even more than yesterday) everyone asks: where are the policemen and military forces who are supposed to protect them? #ChileDesperto”.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of the video in the misleading post on Facebook (L) and the earlier Twitter video (R):

Chilean media Primera Fuenta reported on the blaze here on October 19, 2019, embedding the same video posted on its Instagram account.

The report's headline states: “Arson attack hits Elisa Correa station and a subway car in Puento Alto.”

Chilean protesters have demanded economic reforms and the resignation of President Sebastian Pinera since mid-October 2019. Here is an AFP report about the protests.

A photo of the burned train was published by AFP here on October 19, 2019. The photo's caption states: "Photo released by Aton of a burnt train after protests in Santiago on October 19, 2019. Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced Saturday the suspension of the increase in the price of metro tickets which triggered violent protests."

Another photo of the burned train was published by the Associated Press here on October 20, 2019.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (top) and the AFP photo (bottom left) and the AP photo (bottom right), with key features of the station circled in red by AFP:

Elisa Correa station is located in Puento Alto, part of Santiago Metropolitan Region. Here is the station’s location on Google Maps: