Hyderabad: With the outbreak of Covid-19, the frequent use of hand sanitisers has been recommended by doctors and healthcare professionals, to prevent further spread of the virus. However, a few images and videos have been going viral with a claim that they are from a blast caused by a hand sanitiser, on exposure to fire. But is this claim true?

Fact Check:

A video that has been going viral on social media is that of a man burning inside a vehicle. This video has been shared on all social media platforms, including WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, with the claim that "Delhi; Sanitizer Blast in heat at Rohini flyover, Delhi. Please, Never keep full bottles of sanitizer in the car. Carry just very little in a bottle, never leave it in the car and expose in heat."

The video shows smoke billowing from a van, in which there is a man, who is visibly burnt in the fire. A part of his hand can be seen outside the window of the car. The message that is sent along with this video claims that a hand sanitizer is behind the fire, which occurred in Delhi.

The video has been shared on Twitter by actor Nagma Morarji, from Indian National Congress on May 26, 2020. An archived version of the tweet can be found here.

This video has been shared by government officials such as Dr. Rajshri Singh IPS, IGP Haryana State Crime on her official Facebook account. An archived version of the tweet can be found here.

When NewsMeter conducted a fact-check on this video, it was proven that the claims are FALSE. After conducting a Google reverse image search taking key frames from the video, the search engine showed a result of a fire incident which happened on May 21. Media outlets such as Times of India and Zee News had reported the fire incident, with the same images. As per the media reports, the fire incident took place in Delhi's Mangolpuri area. Zee News mentioned that the cause of fire could be a leak from the CNG tank. "The van was loaded with plastic and as soon as it was on the flyover it ignited," Zee News reported.

None of the media outlets report that hand sanitiser bottles were responsible for the fire. While the actual incident happened on May 21, these images began to be shared since May 27. Therefore, the claims are false.

Although hand sanitisers are flammable by nature, reports say that they cannot catch fire when exposed to heat, at least in the normal temperature in the country. An article by Full Fact said that "Although alcoholic hand sanitisers are potentially flammable, there would need to be a spark to start a fire at temperatures this low. The flammable ingredients in hand sanitiser would need to be at much higher temperatures, over 350°C, to combust without a spark."

Rakesh Mishra, the director for Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) Hyderabad said, "Hand sanitisers are safe to use, and the alcohol content in it immediately evaporates after usage. It lasts just for a minute or so. So unless you keep your hands near the fire suddenly after using sanitiser, or before the sanitiser goes completely dry on your palms, your hands won't really get burnt. There needs to be an ignition source for the sanitiser to catch fire," he said.

These images were also debunked by a portal named Social Media Hoax Slayer on May 28.

So, the claim that the fire incident at Rohini flyover is caused by hand sanitiser is FALSE.

Claim Review :   Delhi man was killed due to hand sanitiser blast
Claimed By :  Social Media Users
Fact Check :  False

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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