18 Hurt as Van Plows Into Crowd in Downtown Shanghai

Police say driver was smoking, lost control
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 2, 2018 12:33 AM CST
18 Hurts as Van Plows Into Shanghai Pedestrians
In this image taken from cellphone video provided to the Associated Press, firefighters put out a blaze after a minivan carrying gas tanks plowed into pedestrians along a street in Shanghai, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – A minivan hauling gas canisters plowed into pedestrians near a prominent park and burst into flames in downtown Shanghai on Friday, injuring 18 people in the heart of the Chinese financial hub, local authorities say. Police appeared to dismiss fears that the crash was a deliberate attack, describing it as an accident caused when a driver who was smoking lost control of his vehicle and veered onto the sidewalk, slamming into pedestrians near a Starbucks outlet, the AP reports. The 40-year-old driver and two other people suffered serious injuries. Police say the driver works for a Shanghai metals company and has no criminal record but is now under suspicion of transporting dangerous materials, police say.

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A man who witnessed the crash on his way to People's Park said in a video interview carried by Chinese media outlets that the minivan seemed to be moving fast as it veered across the road. The minivan did not slow down. "The driver must have been in a panic at the time. He didn't slow down and just directly crashed," said the witness, who wasn't identified. "It was on the other side of the road and made a turn over to this side. People saw it and quickly tried to get away but a lot of people were still hit." Friday's crash occurred just as British Prime Minister Theresa May was speaking at a business event in Shanghai. May's speech was at a forum in the Lujiazui district on the opposite side of the Huangpu River from People's Park.

(Read more Shanghai stories.)

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