BEIJING (AP) — Authorities in southwest China said Tuesday that police suspect that a man who died in an explosion on a bus was responsible for igniting the fire that also injured dozens.
The Yibin city government in Sichuan province said on an official website that a preliminary investigation by police shows that the blast on a public bus Monday evening was caused by arson.
Photos carried by state media showed the bus on the side of a road, some of its windows shattered, the floor strewn with bags, plastic bottles and other personal items. The photos showed several injured passengers, including a child who suffered severe burns, being carried into hospitals for treatment.
Authorities have not said how many people were on the bus. Another 77 passengers and rescuers were sent to hospital for treatment or to be kept under observation, including 12 who were either seriously or critically injured.
The official Xinhua News Agency cited a 12-year-old girl who was on the bus as saying she could smell gasoline before the fire broke out near the back door. The girl escaped with two of her classmates by climbing out a back window, the report said.
A 51-year-old man named Yu Yuehai, the only person who died in the blast, was suspected of committing arson, the Yibin government said. Police are investigating for motive.
Last year, a Chinese man set fire to a commuter bus in the southeastern port city of Xiamen, killing himself and 46 others. A deadly bus fire in 2009 killed 27 people, including the arsonist, in the central city of Chengdu. Both men were believed to be acting in vengeance against society in China, where tensions have been on the rise because of growing gaps in wealth and a lack of social security.
In February, a man suspicious of his wife's infidelity admitted to setting a fire aboard a bus that killed six people and injured 35 others in the southwestern city of Guiyang.