Monday 10 December 2018

Eighteen injured after burning van hits pedestrians

Eirka Kinetz and Gerry Shih

Eighteen people have been injured in Shanghai after the driver of a minivan hauling gas canisters set fire to his vehicle while smoking a cigarette, ploughing into pedestrians before bursting into flames.

Police ruled out the possibility of a deliberate attack and described the crash in the Chinese financial hub as an accident.

The 40-year-old minivan driver, who was identified only by his surname, Chen, lost control after a fire erupted in his van, which held several plastic bottles of gasoline as well as six canisters of liquid gas.

A cigarette butt found by investigators in the van likely started the fire, Shanghai police said. Chen had apparently been alone in the vehicle.

Chen was being treated for severe smoke inhalation and was in a coma, and nine other people are still in hospital, police said. Chen works for a Shanghai metals company and had no criminal record but is now under suspicion for transporting dangerous materials.

The incident, which took place on Nanjing West Road during the morning commute period near Shanghai’s People’s Park and a vast plaza that is also home to the municipal government, provided a brief scare for a city that was hosting Prime Minister Theresa May.

Vehicle attacks by extremists have killed scores globally in recent years, including some in Chinese cities.

Press Association

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