Hoaxes & Rumors

Mother and Baby Japan Earthquake Photo: Put Away the Tissues

Mother and Baby Japan Earthquake Photo: Put Away the Tissues

A photo of rescue workers digging bodies out of rubble is continuing to float around social media and email.

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Online Story

The (rather long) caption of a touching story of a mother rescuing her baby accompanies, and reads:

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After the Earthquake had subsided, when the rescuers reached the ruins of a young woman’s house, they saw her dead body through the cracks. But her pose was somehow strange that she knelt on her knees like a person was worshiping; her body was leaning forward, and her two hands were supporting by an object. The collapsed house had crashed her back and her head.
With so many difficulties, the leader of the rescuer team put his hand through a narrow gap on the wall to reach the woman’s body. He was hoping that this woman could be still alive. However, the cold and stiff body told him that she had passed away for sure.
He and the rest of the team left this house and were going to search the next collapsed building. For some reasons, the team leader was driven by a compelling force to go back to the ruin house of the dead woman. Again, he knelt down and used his had through the narrow cracks to search the little space under the dead body. Suddenly, he screamed with excitement,” A child! There is a child! “
The whole team worked together; carefully they removed the piles of ruined objects around the dead woman. There was a 3 months old little boy wrapped in a flowery blanket under his mother’s dead body. Obviously, the woman had made an ultimate sacrifice for saving her son. When her house was falling, she used her body to make a cover to protect her son. The little boy was still sleeping peacefully when the team leader picked him up.
The medical doctor came quickly to exam the little boy. After he opened the blanket, he saw a cell phone inside the blanket. There was a text message on the screen. It said,” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” This cell phone was passing around from one hand to another. Every body that read the message wept. ” If you can survive, you must remember that I love you.” Such is the mother’s love for her child!!

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The question then becomes is this real?

It’s not real.

Even clicking on the “Reference” link will yield the same story with one additional sentence that the Facebook crowd conveniently left off: “Note – This story may not be true but the message in the story is what really matters :)”

The photo comes from news coverage of a Chinese earthquake in 2008 – not the Japanese earthquake as this story sometimes states – and of rescuers pulling two bodies from the rubble. Looking closely at the photo, you can clearly see that there are two dead bodies, neither of which is the size of the infant described. Nor is the larger body in any sort of protective pose. The caption in the original story merely reads:

Firefighters dig, bare-handed, two bodies out of the debris in quake-hit Huili county in Sichuan Province August 31, 2008. Death toll from the 6.1-magnitude earthquake has risen to 32 in Sichuan and Yunnan, and more than 400 were injured. [Xinhua]

Even commenters online wondered such things as how someone could text – or would have time to text – while a house is collapsing around them. One almost must wonder why people post such stories like this in the first place. Touching fictional stories have been told since the beginning of time, but to grab an unrelated photo and attach a manufactured story does not do the intent of the tale justice.

Bottom Line

The Japanese earthquake story is not real and the photo circulated with the story is not even from Japan.

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