Bus fire kills 17; suspected arsonist arrested

Firefighters inside the burnt bus on a street in China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on Jan 5, 2016.
Firefighters inside the burnt bus on a street in China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region on Jan 5, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • Police in China yesterday arrested a man suspected of starting a bus fire in north-west Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region that killed 17 people, state media said.

Bus fires are not uncommon in China, where regulators have blamed some recent blazes on flawed auto design. In 2013, a bus fire blamed on a suicidal man killed 47 in the coastal city of Xiamen.

Yesterday's incident took place in Helan county, in the regional capital of Yinchuan. Thirty-two people were injured, eight of them severely burnt while the rest had moderate to slight burns, the county government said. All the injured are being treated at Ningxia Medical University General Hospital.

Police "surrounded and seized" the suspected arsonist after launching a manhunt, the official People's Daily said on its microblog.

Police in Helan county were investigating the blaze. State media did not mention any possible motives.

Mr Hu Yuexiang, 26, said: "I was sitting at the front of the bus when suddenly people started screaming 'Fire! Bus on fire!' When I turned around, the flames were racing towards me very quickly and before I knew it my shoes were on fire."

The company that owns the 84-seater bus started a safety check of all its vehicles following the incident.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2016, with the headline 'Bus fire kills 17; suspected arsonist arrested'. Print Edition | Subscribe