VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Video DOES NOT show a ship sunk by China

August 11, 2023

A Facebook (FB) page uploaded a Reel supposedly of a vessel wrecked by the Chinese government, an incident allegedly concealed by the media. These claims are false. 

Posted on Aug. 5, the FB reel showing the sinking vessel surrounded by other ships bore the text: 

Barko pinalubog ng china di ibinalita (Ship sunk by China not reported).” 

Several netizens in the comments sections were misled that the clip shows a Philippine vessel sunk by China, as tensions escalate between the two countries after the recent water cannon incident in Ayungin Shoal. 

The video actually shows a ferry boat intentionally sunk by the Brazilian government in 2020. 

Reverse image search led VERA Files Fact Check to a TikTok account that uploaded a copy of the clip on June 4. The caption stated that it is footage of a ferry boat submerged in Baía de Todos-os-Santos (Bay of All Saints) in Bahia, Brazil. 

An FB video uploaded by the local government of Bahia said it purposely submerged the retired ferry boat Agenor Gordilho on Nov. 21, 2020. Agenor Gordilho, along with the tugboat Vega, was sunk to create an artificial reef and encourage underwater tourism in the area.

The name “Agenor Gordilho” could be seen on the boat in the circulating Reel.

The false video was uploaded the same day the China Coast Guard (CCG) blocked and water cannoned the boats chartered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the escorting vessels from the Philippine Coast Guard in a resupply mission. Due to the blockade, only one of the two boats was able to deliver food, water, fuel and other supplies to the troops stationed at BRP Sierra Madre in Ayungin Shoal.

VERA Files Fact Check previously flagged other false claims related to the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute. (Read Marcos did NOT order Navy, PCG to surround Chinese ships at Recto Bank)

The reel uploaded by the Filipino FB page NotifyMe (created on April 5) has 1,900 reactions, 579 comments, 1,900 shares and 119,000 views as of writing.


Have you seen any dubious claims, photos, memes, or online posts that you want us to verify? Fill out this reader request form or send it to VERA, the truth bot on Viber.

(Editor’s Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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VERA Files

VERA Files is a nonstock, nonprofit, independent media organization. Founded in March 2008, it is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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