“Nepal earthquake victims” photo actually from mountainous northern Vietnam

One of the most viral photos in the recent days of the earthquake victims in Nepal turns out to be taken from Vietnam, as the photographer himself complained.

The photo, which shows two little kids hugging each other, was described as depicting “a four-year old boy comforting his 2-year old sister after the Nepalese quake.” The way the children looked, their sorrowful eyes and the indigence they may be suffering from made a deep impression on the audience. The photo went viral on Facebook and Twitter as a symbol of poor little victims in the earthquake-hit Nepal.


However, it was just one among tens of thousands of daily life photos by Nguyen Quang Son (aka. Na Son), a prominent young photographer in Vietnam.

Son said he took this photo in Can Ty, a small village in the remote mountainous province of Ha Giang, in October 2007. The kids were actually a brother and his younger sister, but they were H’mong people, an ethnic group living primarily in northern Vietnam. Initially the photo was titled simply as “Soothing the baby.”

On Monday he also wrote on his Facebook page, which has nearly 30,000 followers, that he published “Soothing the baby” a few years ago on his personal blog, and was very surprised afterwards to see it being shared among the Vietnamese Internet community under a new title, “Abandoned orphans.” He would be all the more surprised to find the photo getting viral in some other parts of the cyber world with credits of pathos such as “Tibetian children” (in 2010), “Two Burmese orphans” (2012), even “Victims of the Syrian civil war” (2013).

“India TV even produced a ten-minute reportage on the efforts to save the two kids’ life,” Son said. “It has been retwitted by 2000 people, and I have been accessed by De Morgen, BBC Urdu, Bloomberg TV and some other European media agencies.”

“Thanks to some foreign friends of mine, I’ve learnt a new English word, that is Presstitude. Previously I don’t know how to say “ejaculater” (a slang term used by the young Internet users in Vietnam to mean “very bad and unethical reporters who just write rubbish things”) in English, now I know,” Son said humorously.