Does a video shared on social media in January 2024 show a "US-owned cargo ship" that was "hit by a missile off the coast of Yemen"? No, that's not true: The video clip was originally published online in May 2021. It depicted a Singapore-registered container ship off the coast of Sri Lanka that was evacuated after a chemical fire caused an explosion. There was a missile strike on a ship off the coast of Yemen that was reported on January 15, 2024, but the clip shared in an Instagram post does not show that incident.
⚠️WW3 NEWS UPDATE⚠️ shit is heating up 🔥🚀📜
Repost from @ambassador_of_news
⚠️A US-owned cargo ship was just hit by a missile off the coast of Yemen ⚠️
Below is how the post appeared at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken Tues Jan 16 17:33:14 2024)
Rather, the video was published to YouTube on May 25, 2021 (archived here), by BBC News and showed a "Sri Lanka navy rescue crew following [a] chemical fire on [a] cargo ship." A description with the video read:
The crew of a container ship off the coast of Sri Lanka had to be evacuated after a chemical fire caused an explosion.
Two sailors from the Singaporean X-Press Pearl were taken to hospital with injuries.
A Google search (archived here) using the keywords "Sri Lanka cargo ship fire 2021" returned many other news reports (archived here) that confirmed the 2021 incident, including another version of the video (archived here) that was published by Guardian News on May 31, 2021, with credit for the clip to the Sri Lanka Air Force. A caption that accompanied this video read:
Aerial footage shows a cargo ship carrying chemicals on fire off the Sri Lankan coast. The fire on MV X-Press Pearl, a Singapore-registered ship, broke out on 20 May and has been burning ever since, spilling microplastics across Sri Lanka's beaches and killing marine life in what could be the worst environmental disaster in its history. The Sri Lankan navy and Indian coastguard have been trying to reduce the flames for more than 10 days
A Google News search (archived here) using the keywords "US-owned cargo ship was just hit by a missile off the coast of Yemen" returned several related reports, though the video in question accompanied none of them. Instead, these news reports included an Associated Press account (archived here) of a January 15, 2023, attack by Houthi rebels who "fired a missile that struck a U.S.-owned ship Monday just off the coast of Yemen in the Gulf of Aden."
The post on Instagram also claimed that:
The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations security agency reported it as a 'vessel hit from above by a missile' on its website.
(Source: UKMTO screenshot taken Tues Jan 16 17:50:24 2024)
Again, no video -- including the clip shared in the post on Instagram -- accompanied the report.
Other Lead Stories fact checks of claims about the Hamas-Israel conflict can be found here.