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Eighteen people were injured after a van on fire lost control and crashed near a public park in downtown Shanghai on Friday morning, police said.
The accident took place about 9 am around People's Park after a fire started in the van as it was driving along Nanjing West Road.
The driver of the van, a 40-year-old man surnamed Chen, was suspected of illegally transporting "dangerous materials" and smoking while driving, which caused the van to catch fire, according to police. They found a cigarette butt in the third row of the vehicle, where they believed the fire began, as well as a cylinder, six liquid gas tanks and seven gasoline bottles.
Security camera footage showed that the fire broke out in the back seat where the smoke originated, and the brake light was on when the van was about to crash onto the sidewalk, police said.
Chen is an employee of a metal product company in Shanghai and has no criminal record, police said. Blood tests ruled out that Chen was dsilicone bracelet makerriving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In addition to Chen, 17 pedestrians were injured, police said. All of the injured were sent to nearby Shanghai Changzheng Hospital. Eight have been discharged after receiving treatment, while the other nine [MG_SEO]were mildly injured but require overnight observation at the hospital, police said.
Chen, however, is still in a coma. Police said the hospital is doing its best to save Chen, but he would be held accountable for the accident.
Xu Xin, a resident living nearby who was walking out of the park after his morning exercise, said he saw the van driving onto the pavement with no trace of slowing down and it only stopped after hitting pedestrians and a tree on the roadside.
"Many managed to dodge the van but it still knocked down more than a dozen passers-by as it was morning rush hour and People's Square was packed with commuters," Xu said.
Xu said that people were trying to save the driver and the passengers inside the vehicle by breaking the car windows, but the driver was unconscious and the fire was very big. Fire engines and ambulances soon arrived, extricating the victims on board and removing three liquid gas storage tanks.