China: Vehicle ploughs into pedestrians, injuring 18 in Shanghai

18 people were injured in China when a minivan caught fire and mounted the pavement in a busy area of central Shanghai on Friday, reports said.

Reportedly, the fire was caused by a 40-year-old driver who was smoking a cigarette inside the vehicle while illegally transporting highly flammable substances, police released surveillance images showing the minivan veering sharply across the wrong side of traffic towards a large crowd of pedestrians waiting at a crossing, flames billowing in the back of the vehicle.

Another image appeared to show the driver smoking a cigarette inside his vehicle before the accident.

The driver is suspected of running an illegal business transporting liquefied petroleum gas canisters, police said, adding that he is suspected of culpable driving causing serious damage or injury.

The Shanghai government said in a short statement that the vehicle hit the pedestrians on a road running next to People’s Square, injuring 18, three of them seriously. The car came to a stop in front of a Starbucks outlet.