A viral video shows tourists in Zhuhai, a village in southern China, crying out in astonishment when they see clouds taking on different shapes. Huge numbers of people have shared this video with a caption proclaiming that the cloud formations are the work of the gods or, perhaps, the gods themselves. There has been wide speculation about this miraculous sight. But unfortunately for the believers out there, these images are not what they seem.
Since May, this video has been widely shared on WeChat and Weibo, the main Chinese social media outlets. On June 14, someone in Hong Kong posted the video on Facebook, where it has garnered more than 298,000 views.
People on social media are full of questions about the mysterious image, asking themselves, “Is it a mirage?” and “Did the gods fall from the skies?”.
Some local media outlets also fell for these images.
Though the clarity of the design in the clouds makes it hard to believe, the crowd shown in the video seems utterly convinced by what they are seeing in the skies. One onlooker cries out “Wow, what is that?” in Mandarin.
Answer hidden in a Facebook comment
The FRANCE 24 Observers contacted meteorologist Jean-Noël Degrâce. He said it was most likely that the image had been modified in some way, though he also said that the design in the sky could be the result of “cloud seeding”, which is a form of weather modification that involves dispersing particles in the air to increase cloud condensation.
However, the answer can be found in the comments left on Facebook. Someone posted a 45-second video that has exactly the same beginning as the viral video. However, the rest of this longer video reveals the hoax. The camera zooms out, and shows the screen of a smartphone filming the scene.
The next clip shows images from a video game. At the end of the clip, a sentence appears: “When magic is spread around, miracles appear. The race starts today.” It turns out that the original video is an advert for a video game that you can play on your smartphone. The central characters of the game are shown coming out of clouds.