7-Year-Old Image of Ship Wreck in Italy Falsely Shared as Corona Virus Victims

Coronavirus False Medical

Coronavirus infection spreads intensively and has had a serious impact on Italy, which is known in Europe as a country with many elderly citizens. By March 20, more than 40,000 people in Italy had contracted the novel coronavirus, and over 3400 had died from pandemic according surpassing the deadly figures from China as well.

In such scenario, a photo of coffins was posted by a Facebook profile named “
Tom Hermance” with the following caption: “A reminder why to take COVID-19 seriously. This is from one town in Italy. Stay healthy & keep your distance”. This post has been shared by more than 2000 times among Facebook users.

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So is it really an image that shows the level of carnage wrecked in Italy by the COVID-19 pandemic? Are the bodies lying in the coffin actually of people who died of COVID-19? The answer to these questions is NO. This image is old and not related to the current COVID-19 outbreak in Italy. Let’s see how we found out the reality of this image.

Fact Check

If we look at the photo carefully, the place where coffins are laid seems to be a hall and does not look like a cemetery chapel. We subjected the image to Google reverse image search. While examining the search results, we found several photos including the one from The Sun article updated on April 5, 2016. The screenshot of the search result is given below:

We also found an article published by a UK based prominent news website The Gaurdian which featured the image in question. The details given in the article about the image are as follows: Coffins of some of the African migrants killed in a shipwreck off the Italian coast sit in a hangar at Lampedusa airport in October 2013. Photograph: Tullio M Puglia/Getty Images. The screenshot of the article along with the link can be found below:

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As seen in the details, the credits for the image has been attributed to Getty Images. Hence, we searched Getty images with the details provided in the article and we found the image which can be seen below:

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In the month of October in 2013, African migrants, hopeful of seeking asylum in Italy, met with a horrible ship wreck off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy. The ship carrying hundreds of migrants caught fire near the harbor of Lampedusa and killed the migrants on the ship. As the ship caught fire, people tried escaping by jumping off the ship but they were unable to make it to the coast. The coffins seen in the picture is of the dead African migrants who perished while trying to swim to the Italian shores.

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The photos used in the posts to claim that these coffins in the image are of people who died in Italy due to COVID-19 are exactly the same images used in the news articles reporting the shipwreck incident that took place 7 years ago.


The image used in the viral Facebook posts claimed to be the coffins of victims of COVID-19 in Italy are actually 7 years old and have no relation to the current situation in Italy. The image is of the coffins of African migrants who died in a shipwreck in 2013 off the coast of Italy while attempting to enter Italy in pursuit of seeking asylum in the country.


Title:7-Year-Old Image of Ship Wreck in Italy Falsely Shared as Corona Virus Victims

Fact Check By: Sathyajith Subasinghe 

Result: False

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