Shanghai ploughs into pedestrians as Prime Minister visits city

Eighteen people were injured when a van mounted a footpath before crashing and bursting into flames during rush hour in Shanghai’s financial centre, officials said.To get more China Shanghai news, you can visit shine news official website.

The vehicle struck five to six people waiting for a light change at a busy pedestrian crossing, according to reports, before it came to a stop in an area about four miles from where Theresa May was meeting with the city’s mayor Ying Yong for trade talks.

Police dismissed fears the crash at around 9am near the People's Park could have been a terror attack.Videos on social media showed injured people lying on the pavement next to the vehicle, with flames and smoke billowing from inside, and others pinned under its tyres.

Witnesses said bystanders broke the windows of the van to try and rescue six people who were reportedly unconscious inside. Firefighters were later seen trying to put out a blaze inside the vehicle.A 40-year-old man identified only by his surname Chen had been smoking at the wheel and accidentally ignited gas canisters he was transporting inside the vehicle, police said.

The driver and two other people suffered serious injuries in the crash, and all of the 18 injured in total were being treated in hospital, the authorities said.A British official travelling with Ms May in China said that Downing Street was aware of reports of the crash outside the Starbucks outlet at Nanjing West Road but had no further comment to make.

The Prime Minister had been meeting with mayor Yong at Shanghai's Xingguo Hotel, about four miles from the incident. There was no indication that the accident had disrupted the appointment. A cleaner surnamed Xu said she saw smoke coming out of the van as it drove down the street before veering out of control.

"It couldn't stop, crashed into the corner and caught fire," said Xu, who works in a building across the street from the crash site. "Two men were trying to pull the passenger out of the car, but failed. Other people told them to stop. Then the police and ambulance arrived."

A man who saw the crash on his way to People's Park told Chinese media 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."The Shanghai-based news outlet Pengpai, citing a witness, reported that the vehicle was carrying six people and several canisters of gas typically used for cooking and heating.

Police officers stood guard outside the emergency room at the Changzheng Hospital in central Shanghai, where a nurse said the injured were receiving treatment.A relative of one patient, who declined to be identified, said at least five or six crash patients were being treated there.Chen works for a Shanghai metals company and had no criminal record but was now under suspicion of transporting dangerous materials, police said.

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