This is NOT a Footage of a Vehicle Being Swept Away by Massive Floods in Haputale, Sri Lanka!

Environment Misleading

A video clip of a negligent motorist being swept away by a strong downstream water current is viral among WhatsApp users in Sri Lanka, implying that the scenes were from the town of Haputale. 

However, our Factcrescendo team found that this video was not only misattributed to Sri Lanka, but even a similar incident had not occurred in Haputale. Let’s look at the claim first.

Social Media Posts

A video forwarded multiple times among WhatsApp users shows an SUV being dragged by a strong flooded water stream and indicates that an unfortunate incident was supposed to have happened recently in Haputale, as seen below.

This video started making rounds on Facebook too.

Facebook | Archived

Let’s have a look at the facts behind this claim.

Fact Check 

First, we tried to find the viral footage in recent news reports, yet such an incident was not recently reported from Sri Lanka.

Then we searched for the origins of this viral video by analysing the keyframes of the viral clip. We saw numerous videos of the same incident taken from different angles on all social media platforms.

A clip from Nicaragua, viral as a scene from Haputale

However, the original video, reported a couple of weeks ago, is connected to the Central American nation Nicaragua. A driver, who was later identified as Alberto Uriel Romero Martíne, proceeded to the flooded areas of the motorway in Veracruz, municipality of Nindirí, without realising the potential dangers. Moments later, the flooded stream dragged away his SUV vehicle, and despite jumping out from the drowning vehicle, the driver eventually lost his life. 

A news article on this can be read here. Archived. A Tweet about the incident can be reached here, on the 29th of May. Archived 

Then we directed our attention towards the hilly town of Haputale to ascertain whether any floods had occurred recently or flood warnings had been issued in the area.

DMC officials confirm that, at present, there isn’t any specific landslide or flood risk in Haputale!

It’s true that Haputale is one of the risky areas for landslides in the Badulla district.  But is it facing specific landslides or flood risks these days? We contacted the assistant director of the Disaster Management Centre (DMC), Udaya Kumara, who is responsible for DMC operations in the Badulla district.

“Haputale is a risky area for landslides. Haputale has some level of risk 365 days a year. But there isn’t any specific risk these days”, he said.

Udaya Kumara pointed out that the Haputale area receives little rain these days, and there is less probability for such types of floods as the current southwestern monsoon is not impacting much on Haputale as it is affecting Colombo and the Southwestern part of the country.

He elaborated that sudden flash floods can happen in many potentially risky areas of the world for various reasons, and it is incorrect to narrow the risk down to Haputale.

Also, by observing the recent landslide early warning reports and flood warnings by DMC, the district of Badulla was not mentioned in any of the notices. 

The assistant director of DMC added that many countries are facing sudden flooding issues due to weaknesses in the infrastructure and irrigation due to weather pattern changes and heavy rains.

Furthermore, June can be considered one of the driest months in the Haputale area. The Data can be reached from here. Archived.

Surrounded by hills, Haputale is a small located in the Badulla district, 1500 meters above sea level. Haputale town is a famous tourist destination among locals and foreigners for its pleasant weather and picturesque environment. Details about Haputale can be read here.

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Our investigation revealed that the viral footage claiming to be an SUV swept down by strong floods had no relation to Haputale or Sri Lanka. The video depicts an incident in Nicaragua in Central America.

Furthermore, the Disaster Management Centre (DMC) of Sri Lanka confirms that despite being a landslide-prone area, Haputale town and its surroundings are not at serious risk of sudden floods or landslides in natural disasters at present.


Title:This is NOT a Footage of a Vehicle Being Swept Away by Massive Floods in Haputale, Sri Lanka!

Written By: Kalana Krishantha 

Result: Missing Context

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