China authorities: deadly bus fire caused by arson

(AP)

A man is suspected of setting a commuter bus ablaze in southern China, killing himself and injuring dozens of people, authorities said Tuesday.

There was no immediate word on a motive for what authorities called an arson attack Monday evening in the Sichuan province city of Yibin. Seventy-seven passengers and rescuers were sent to hospitals, including 12 seriously or critically injured.

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 also showed several injured passengers, including a child who suffered severe burns, being carried into hospitals for treatment.

Following a preliminary investigation, police suspect that Yu Yuehai, 51 〞 the only person killed in the blaze 〞 deliberately set the fire and were investigating the motive, the Yibin city government said on an official website.

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.

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.

(Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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