Fact Check: Korean Tanker New Bright Was NOT Attacked Near Yemen

Fact Check

  • by: Jamal Halaby
Fact Check: Korean Tanker New Bright Was NOT Attacked Near Yemen Fire In China

Did the Korean tanker New Bright catch fire in the Red Sea after being attacked near Yemen in January 2024? No, that's not true: The ship caught fire as it sailed downstream in the Yangtze River, near Shanghai in East China en route to Incheon, South Korea, on December 21, 2023. The cause of the blaze was not disclosed.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok on January 21, 2024. A text overlay in English read:

Yeman🇾🇪🇾🇪 made red Sea hell for Israel🇮🇱🇮🇱 you will also make hell for them by sharing this video.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:


(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Jan 24 13:49:21 2024 UTC)

The 11-second video depicts a tanker in distress in the water, tilting on one side, but still afloat, with what appears to be charred cargo onboard and a nearby fire boat spraying it with water. Another video in Arabic (archived here), posted on TikTok on January 12, 2024, showed similar footage of the tanker, claiming that the attack prompted joint U.S.-U.K. airstrikes on specific targets in Yemen that belong to the pro-Iranian Houthi rebels, on January 11, 2024. A headline (translated from Arabic to English by Lead Stories staff) claimed:

The reason for the strikes on Yemen yesterday🇺🇸

A Google Lens reverse image search (archived here) yielded several identical videos in different languages, including French and Turkish, on various social media platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and X. Posted in December 2023 and January 2024, they showed the name of the vessel as New Bright.

A Google News search for "New Bright vessel hit near Yemen" on January 24, 2024, (archived here) led to an article on Dfrac (archived here), a digital forensics, research and analytics center also known as Dfrac.org, which showed identical images of the vessel, identifying it as Korean. The India-based website said that the tanker caught fire while sailing in East China, not in the Red Sea, and the fire had nothing to do with an attack from Yemen.

A reverse image search (archived here) on Google led to a December 21, 2023, article by FleetMon (archived here), a ship-tracking website that reports on marine traffic and research. It said a fire erupted on the tanker New Bright as it sailed "downstream in Yangtze River, near Sutong Bridge, Shanghai" en route from Changzhou to Incheon, South Korea, on December 21, 2023. "It was a major fire, all 22 crew were evacuated, (the) tanker developed (a) heavy starboard list and stern tilt, but remained afloat", it added. The images in the article, which showed the tanker New Bright, matched that of the ship in the TikTok video. Neither Dfrac nor FleetMon said what caused the blaze.

  Jamal Halaby

Jamal Halaby is a fact-checker, who has been working with Lead Stories for nearly two years, helping bring the truth and factual information to the organization's global audience. With extensive background in investigative journalism and content writing and editing in Arabic and English, Jamal uses that experience to expose a burgeoning market of misinformation and disinformation. Previously, he worked as a writer for the Associated Press and several other reputable international news organizations. He has a passion for empirical analysis and discerning the veracity of the news.

Read more about or contact Jamal Halaby

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