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Old video of Indonesia bus fire falsely shared as election arson attack

In Europe
February 21, 2024

Footage of a burning bus in Indonesia shows a fire in January 2023 that was reportedly caused by an electrical fault, contrary to social media posts that falsely claim the vehicle was torched over its owner’s support for a candidate in the 2024 presidential election. The blaze happened nearly a year before the bus company’s owner publicly endorsed Anies Baswedan in the February 2024 ballot. There are no reports that the fire was arson.

“Because of support for Anies Baswedan, Budiman bus was burnt,” says an Indonesian-language Facebook post shared on February 4, 2024.

Budiman is a transport company owned by Dede Sudrajat, a businessman and a politician in Tasikmalaya, a city in Indonesia’s West Java province (archived link).

In September 2023, Dede publicly endorsed Anies Baswedan for the Indonesian presidency in the February 2024 election (archived link).

The Facebook post urges voters to support Anies in a final election rally held on February 10, adding: “Let’s fight and show we’re not playing around”.

The video shows a bus engulfed in flames, with Indonesian text overlay saying: “Budiman bus pool is on fire in Tasikmalaya”.

<span>Screenshot of false post, taken on February 16, 2024</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/BByyCMg.fYJHVFULUz7TBA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTEyMzU-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/d4bb5465d483c8e3fc559cc2c4eb58c1″><noscript><img alt=Screenshot of false post, taken on February 16, 2024” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/BByyCMg.fYJHVFULUz7TBA–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTEyMzU-/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/d4bb5465d483c8e3fc559cc2c4eb58c1″ class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot of false post, taken on February 16, 2024

The video was shared in similar posts on X, Facebook and Snack Video that falsely claimed it was an election-related arson attack.

The posts surfaced ahead of Indonesia’s presidential election in which Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto looked set to become the new leader of the world’s third-largest democracy, defeating Anies and the third candidate, Ganjar Pranowo. 

The ex-general declared victory after preliminary counts from government-approved pollsters — previously shown to be reliable — indicated he would win high office with a majority in his third attempt.

The final result is not expected until late March 2024.

‘Short circuit’

The video circulating on social media features a SnackVideo watermark with the username “vpduw635”.

A keyword search on the video-sharing platform found the original video posted on January 28, 2023 — more than a year before Anies’ final campaign rally (archived link).

Below is the screenshot comparison of the video in false posts (left), with the username’s ID marked by AFP, and the corresponding video on SnackVideo (right):

<span>Screenshot comparison of the video in false posts (left), with the username’s ID marked by AFP, and the corresponding video on SnackVideo (right)</span>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/8eVlvj5IthuEF5pTtlp.ng–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTk4OQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/87c4304a5bbe174a3dc9ba01bc7cd86a”><noscript><img alt=Screenshot comparison of the video in false posts (left), with the username’s ID marked by AFP, and the corresponding video on SnackVideo (right)” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/8eVlvj5IthuEF5pTtlp.ng–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTk4OQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/afp_factcheck_us_713/87c4304a5bbe174a3dc9ba01bc7cd86a” class=”caas-img”>

Screenshot comparison of the video in false posts (left), with the username’s ID marked by AFP, and the corresponding video on SnackVideo (right)

A man is heard off-camera saying in Indonesian: “Reporting a 65 at the Budiman pool [bus]”.

The number “65” is a code often used by Indonesian police to report a fire (archived link).

Local media reports, including from tvOne and Detikcom, said the fire broke out on January 28, 2023 at the Budiman Bus Pool in Tasikmalaya (archived links here and here).

Indonesia’s Kompas news site quoted a bus company employee who said the cause of the fire was “possibly an electrical short circuit”. Tribunnews also reported that the blaze was thought to be caused by a short circuit (archived links here and here).

AFP has debunked a wave of misinformation around Indonesia’s 2024 elections.

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