PICTURES

Man who set himself on fire in US capital dies

A sign on the US National Mall declares it closed due to government shutdown as police (rear) investigate the scene where a man set himself on fire in Washington, on Oct 4 2013.  A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capit
A sign on the US National Mall declares it closed due to government shutdown as police (rear) investigate the scene where a man set himself on fire in Washington, on Oct 4 2013.  A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died, police said on Saturday. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
First responders and people assist a man who apparently set himself on fire at the National Mall in Washington, on Oct 4, 2013 handout photo by Vanessa Sink. A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died, police s
First responders and people assist a man who apparently set himself on fire at the National Mall in Washington, on Oct 4, 2013 handout photo by Vanessa Sink. A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died, police said on Saturday. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
A Washington, DC ambulance leaves the scene where a man set himself on fire near the US Capitol building on the National Mall in Washington, on Oct 4, 2013.  A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died, police s
A Washington, DC ambulance leaves the scene where a man set himself on fire near the US Capitol building on the National Mall in Washington, on Oct 4, 2013.  A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died, police said on Saturday. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
Police officers investigate the scene where a man set himself on fire in front of the US Capitol building on the US National Mall in Washington, on October 4, 2013.  A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died,
Police officers investigate the scene where a man set himself on fire in front of the US Capitol building on the US National Mall in Washington, on October 4, 2013.  A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died, police said on Saturday. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
Law enforcement officers are near the scene on the National Mall in Washington, where, according to a fire official, a man set himself on fire on Friday, Oct 4, 2013.  A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died
Law enforcement officers are near the scene on the National Mall in Washington, where, according to a fire official, a man set himself on fire on Friday, Oct 4, 2013.  A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died, police said on Saturday. -- FILE PHOTO: AP
A law enforcement officer uses a police dog to search for evidence at the scene where a man set himself on fire within sight of the U.S. Capitol building on the U.S. National Mall in Washington, October 4, 2013. A man who set himself on fire on the N
A law enforcement officer uses a police dog to search for evidence at the scene where a man set himself on fire within sight of the U.S. Capitol building on the U.S. National Mall in Washington, October 4, 2013. A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died, police said on Saturday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A man who set himself on fire on the National Mall in the US capital has died, police said on Saturday.

The victim, who suffered from "significant burns throughout his body" died before 9pm (9am Singapore time) Friday, Washington Metropolitan Police spokesman Araz Alali told AFP.

Authorities have yet to identify the individual due to the severity of his burns and an investigation is ongoing, Mr Alali said.

He was unable to comment on reports that the individual had doused himself in gasoline.

The incident unfolded on Friday afternoon when police responded to reports that a man had self-immolated on the grassy esplanade that stretches from the US Capitol to various national monuments and museums.

The man was semi-conscious and breathing when police arrived around 4.30pm and was airlifted by US Park Police to a local hospital.

Washington tourist Meghan Van Heertum, 29, was standing nearby.

"Somebody extinguished the flames. I saw a cop run to his truck and grab a cooler full of ice, grabbed bottles of water, ran back over," she said.

"There were some guys without their shirts on and I heard from some people that this man had set himself on fire, bystanders took off their shirts to put out the fire." The incident comes in the wake of recent events that have sent jitters through the US capital.

On Thursday, a 34-year-old woman led police on a high-speed car chase from the White House to near the US Capitol before being shot dead.

Just weeks earlier on Sept 16, a gunman slaughtered 12 people at Washington's Navy Yard in the nation's latest mass shooting.