Run! Hurricane Sifiso is coming: Fake storm news that jolted KZN

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This image of a car reportedly falling into a sinkhole during the Durban storm is fake.  According to Africa Check the image originated in the Ukraine in 2014.
This image of a car reportedly falling into a sinkhole during the Durban storm is fake. According to Africa Check the image originated in the Ukraine in 2014.  Image: Twitter
From an earthquake warning‚ to a hurricane alert and the story of a newly constructed bridge crumbling – fake news trolls were whipping up panic as storm-ravaged Durban battled to contain the disaster that struck on Tuesday.

Social media platforms were buzzing with news about the “collapse” of a newly constructed bridge near Umhlanga. Motorists were urged to stay away from the area.

“New bridge N2/M41 at Gateway starting to cave in‚ Could collapse. Emergency services closing off. Please avoid‚” the message read.

Certain news sites also reported that the bridge had given way.

“Contrary to hoax reports‚ there has been no damage to the Mt Edgecombe Interchange which has been inspected by site engineers and no structures have been found to have collapsed‚” said Sanral.

One particularly popular video that was doing the rounds was of people escaping from a submerged taxi. Africa Check debunked the video, finding that the earliest example of its use was in July this year where it reportedly happened in Ethiopia.

Another piece of alarming news‚ purported to have emanated from an official weather service‚ also did its rounds on WhatsApp.

It read: “WEATHER ALERT: Hurricane Sifiso to hit KZN‚ please keep indoors as this storm is classified as a category 3 storm. Heavy gale force winds predicted at 90km/h with Gusts of 120km/h reported by Weather ALERT SA. Storm expected to subside in 3-4 days‚ Avoid travelling in these conditions. Please be cautious people. FORWARD TO FRIENDS & FAMILY.”

The same message had circulated on social media last month. It resurfaced on Tuesday and went viral within minutes.

It was left to the South African Weather Service to do damage control with a tweet: “Please note: Current system over KwaZulu-Natal due to CUT-OFF LOW. It is not a tropical cyclone. Expected to calm down late afternoon.”

As Durban and surrounds struggled with flooded homes and roads‚ submerged cars‚ accidents‚ sinkholes and gale force winds‚ another social media “news alert“ of a possible earthquake‚ caused even more panic.

It read: “Please be advised that the earthquake that happened in some parts of Africa is not yet over because it’s in rotation form. The researchers under geography are encouraging people to stay awake because a massive earthquake is going to occur tomorrow morning at around 2am. It has been proved that the earthquake is caused by the lava of the volcano that is under pressure beneath the earth’s surface ready to be exposed to the earth’s surface. Countries expected to be affected are Zimbabwe‚ Botswana‚ Zambia‚ part of South Africa‚ Mozambique‚Malawi‚ Ghana and Madagascar (sic).”

BY SUTHENTIRA GOVENDER

TMG DIGITAL

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