Fri, September 04, 2009
China > Mainland

Passengers flee as bus goes up in flames

2009-09-04 02:34:53 GMT2009-09-04 10:34:53 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

Firefighters try to put out a fire on a bus yesterday afternoon in Chongqing. The fire injured seven. [Photo by Li Jing/China Daily]

Police in Chongqing are investigating the freak fire of a bus that injured seven people Thursday afternoon.

"Of the seven, one suffered second-degree burns while the others suffered mild injuries," local police said without further elaboration.

The bus on route No 120 was carrying more than 20 people in the southern district of Caiyuanba neighborhood when the fire broke out, police sources said.

"It started in the fifth row from the back and caught the feet of some guy sitting there on fire," a passenger who sat in the third row from the back told China Daily.

"It was mid-afternoon. We were all sleepy until this guy tried to stomp out the fire and woke us. And then, in about a dozen seconds, the fire suddenly got big," said the passenger, a 51-year-old construction engineer, who declined to reveal his name.

"We were afraid the bus would blow up because it runs on natural gas. Luckily it didn't. It burned down in two to three minutes," said a man surnamed Huang, a 53-year-old manager of a motorbike repair shop near the site.

Police have spoken to 30 people, including passengers and witnesses, and have searched surveillance cameras in the neighborhood, but have not yet released any findings.

About an hour and a half before Thursday's bus fire, another fire took place at Gaojia Garden Bridge, blocking traffic for hours, local media reported.

Thursday's bus fire comes three months after 25 people were burned alive and 76 were injured in a bus fire in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, to which Chongqing belonged.

The blaze was later found to be a case of deliberate arson. The suspect, 62-year-old suicidal gambler Zhang Yunliang, died on the spot.

Gang crackdown

Chongqing, China's largest municipality, has made a series of high-profile achievements in fighting "protective umbrellas" for local gangs in its ongoing campaign against gang crimes this year.

At least six police chiefs of district-level bureaus and more than 1,500 suspects, mainly gangsters and business people, have been detained, according to previous reports.

Insiders from Chongqing police said more than 100 policemen have been detained, including more than 20 officials above the department level.

Wen Qiang, 55, the once heroic director of Chongqing's municipal judicial bureau and former police chief, was detained earlier last month over accusations that he helped cover up offenses and usurious loans. Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun said at a conference in August that these loans reached 30 billion yuan ($4.4 billion), amounting to about one third of the local GDP.

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