This image, which is circulating via email, supposedly shows severe tidal flooding along a seaside street in the city of Townsville, Queensland, Australia.
The image shows “The Strand”, an area of the city very popular with both tourists and locals, apparently awash with sea water.
However, the picture is a hoax. It was created with image manipulation software using a genuine photograph of the flood-free Strand as a base.
According to an article that was published at the time in the Townsville Bulletin, the image was created by Townsville man, Kevin Fawcett. He used a photograph he took from his balcony at the Aquarius On The Beach apartments.
After Mr Fawcett created the fake image, he emailed it to a few friends as a joke. However, one or more of the recipients must have forwarded the image to others and it was soon hitting inboxes around the world.
Some Townsville residents have been contacted by overseas family and friends who were concerned for their safety after seeing the hoax photograph. Tourism Queensland has also been forced to reassure travel agents and tour operators that the image does not show a real event.
And Aquarius on the Beach staff have fielded calls about the picture from as far away as London.
North Queensland was experiencing heavy rain and some flooding around the time that the image began circulating, and this probably added credence to the hoax
Kevin Fawcett apparently had no idea that his creation would travel so widely and fool so many people and he had no malicious intent. The image, titled “High Tide at Aquarius” and other artwork by Mr Fawcett is featured on the DeviantArt website.