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Old shipwreck videos misrepresented as Huthi rebel attack

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Social media posts purport to show footage of the Rubymar, a British-registered cargo vessel, sinking off the Arabian Peninsula after an air strike in 2024 from Huthi rebels in Yemen. This is false; the videos depict the destruction of different ships in 2013 and 2020 in other locations.

“British ship RubyMar sunk by Yemen!” says a February 19, 2024 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, with more than 10,000 likes, amid escalating violence in the region linked to the Israel-Hamas war.

The post includes a video of a cargo ship sinking into the ocean.

<span>Screenshot of an X post taken February 21, 2024</span>

Screenshot of an X post taken February 21, 2024

The caption of a different video published February 19 on X says: “The moment the British ship sank after being targeted by the Yemeni armed forces.”

<span>Screenshot of an X post taken February 21, 2024</span>

Screenshot of an X post taken February 21, 2024

Similar claims circulated on Facebook and TikTok — including in French, Turkish, Spanish and Thai.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels began attacking Red Sea shipping in November 2023, saying they were hitting Israel-linked vessels in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which has been ravaged by the Israel-Hamas war.

British authorities said February 18 that a Huthi strike damaged the Rubymar as it traveled through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, forcing the crew to abandon ship (archived here).

US Central Command said two anti-ship ballistic missiles were launched from Huthi-controlled areas in Yemen, but only one struck the vessel (archived here). Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree on February 19 acknowledged the group had targeted three vessels, including the Rubymar (archived here). The BBC reported February 21 that the Rubymar had been damaged by a missile strike but had not sunk and was being towed to Djibouti.

But neither video shared online shows the attack.

A reverse image search using keyframes from the first video surfaced several social media posts shared months and years before the strike (archived here and here). They show footage of the MV Atlantik Confidence, which sank off the coast of Oman in 2013 after an engine room fire.

A Turkish news report about the wreck includes a screenshot from the clip circulating in the false posts (archived here).

<span>Screenshot of a Turkish maritime news website taken February 21, 2024</span>

Screenshot of a Turkish maritime news website taken February 21, 2024

The second video claiming to show a recent Huthi attack is similarly misused.

A reverse image search using keyframes from the clip uncovered a 2020 report and YouTube video identifying the sinking vessel as the Stellar Banner, a “very large ore carrier” (archived here and here).

The ship was grounded off the coast of Brazil in February 2020 after it deviated from its planned course. Later determined a “total constructive loss,” the vessel was deliberately sunk.

AFP has debunked other misinformation related to the Israel-Hamas war here.

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