SHANGHAI – An incident in which a van carrying gas canisters caught fire and crashed into pedestrians in central Shanghai on Friday, injuring 18 people, was accidental, police said.
Early investigations show that a 40-year-old metal worker named Chen, from rural southeast Jiangxi province, was smoking a cigarette while driving and lost control of the vehicle after it caught fire, a police statement said.
Chen, who was also injured in the incident, is suspected of “transporting dangerous goods,” Chinese state media reported.
A van with a number plate from Jiangxi, apparently loaded with gas cylinders, caught fire on central Shanghai’s Nanjing Road Xilu and Xinchang Avenue intersection at around 8:57 am, Shanghai police confirmed.
The incident occurred near People’s Square, one of the city’s busiest areas.
Police added that the driver has no criminal record, and that investigations into the accident were ongoing.
All of those hurt were taken to hospital, including three who were seriously injured, although there was no danger to their lives.
Chinese state media shared images of the burned-out van next to a Starbucks coffee shop, with the area cordoned off by police and the fire already extinguished.