Houthi helicopter attack on Red Sea cargo ship
Australia will participate in a virtual US-led meeting on moves to protect shipping in the Red Sea. Image by AP PHOTO

Yemen ‘air strike explosion’ is actually a blast from the past

David Williams January 23, 2024

A photo of a huge explosion shows retaliatory US/UK bombing of Houthi rebels in Yemen


False. The photo shows a 2015 explosion in China.

A Facebook post claims a photo of a huge explosion is from the joint US-UK bombing of Yemen-based Houthi rebels.

The claim is false. The explosion photo is from 2015 — a social media photo of a massive blast that happened in China. 

Several false claims have circulated on social media since tensions flared over the Houthis’ targeting of cargo ships sailing off the coast of Yemen

The Iran-backed Houthis are opposed to Israel’s actions in Gaza and their Red Sea attacks led to US and British forces commencing bombing in Yemen in mid-January.

A meme shared to social media shows two photos — on the left a picture of a helicopter approaching a cargo ship, with the heading “How it started”. 

Facebook post
 An example of Facebook posts misrepresenting a 2015 photo of an explosion in China. 

On the right is an image of a huge explosion at night, beneath the heading “How it’s going”. The posts, such as here and here on Facebook, and here on X (formerly Twitter), add the comment: “Did the Houthis really think this through?”.

The left-hand photo in the meme is accurate – it is a Houthi Military Media photo distributed by the Reuters news agency in November, 2023, showing a Houthi military helicopter flying over the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea. 

But the right-hand photo is of massive explosion in the Chinese city of Tianjin in 2015. Examples of that image are here, here and here.

Other posts, such as here and here, have presented a different photo of a large explosion as evidence of US/UK action against the Houthis.

However, that image is a Reuters photo of a Houthi attack on a Saudi Arabian oil depot in Jeddah in March 2022, just prior to the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

There are also claims that Houthis shot down a US fighter jet, such as in this Facebook post. The rumour has spread on X, such as here and has been met with some scepticism here.

 A US F-22 Raptor on display at the Avalon Airshow, Victoria, in 2019 

This post claims the downed fighter jet was an F22. The US Department of Defence has denied the social media rumours. Notably, the Houthi rebels have not claimed to have shot down a jet.

Several blogs, such as here, here and here, have dismissed the rumours as misinformation.

The Verdict

The claim that a picture of a huge explosion shows an attack on Yemen’s Houthis following attacks on shipping in the Red Sea is false. 

The photo is from an explosion in China in 2015. It is one of a number of posts spreading misinformation about rising tensions and military action in the Red Sea.

False — The claim is inaccurate

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