Police have ruled out possible terrorism in connection with a Hangzhou bus arson attack on Saturday, after having identified the suspect as one of the seriously injured people receiving medical treatment.
Police were still verifying the identity of the man, seriously burnt during the attack, who is believed to be responsible for setting the fire, but there have not so far been any connections with terrorism found, said Wang Jinghao, deputy director of Hangzhou Public Security Bureau, Sunday at a press conference.
Twenty-nine of 32 wounded passengers were still receiving treatment at five hospitals in Hangzhou as of 3 pm Sunday, 15 of whom remained in critical condition, Yang Jianhua, an official with the Hangzhou Health Bureau, announced during the media briefing.
A source close to local authorities told the Global Times the suspect is not a Hangzhou resident, nor is he a Uyghur.
The results of the investigation are expected to be released soon.
The fire broke out in a bus carrying 80 people at around 5 pm on Saturday in downtown Hangzhou, capital of East China’s Zhejiang Province. Investigators said that many among the passengers were tourists.
Video footage captured by a CCTV camera on the bus showed a male passenger near the vehicle’s back door setting a fire by pouring liquid taken from his backpack and lighting a flammable object with a lighter, Wang said.
Police later found in the man’s backpack a bottle of banana oil and another bottle of rosin water, he added, both of which are highly flammable.
“Many people started rushing out of the bus after the bus door opened, while others started banging on the windows, hoping to break the glass and escape,” a witness surnamed Xie told Quanzhou Daily.
Residents and tourists passing by attempted to save the trapped passengers by trying to break the bus windows, while some drivers helped ferry the injured to nearby hospitals.
Some doctors and nurses at Hangzhou Dental hospital, located nearby the scene of the incident, also rushed to the rescue with the hospital’s extinguishers and oxygen tanks, before police and ambulances arrived, Hangzhou-based hoolo.tv reported.
Hangzhou Public Transport Group announced Sunday morning that it has completed a thorough safety inspection of all 8,600 buses, and required all its bus drivers make sure that their vehicles are equipped with emergency hammers.
“The high number of passengers injured (32 out of 80) may show a lack of public transport safety awareness among the passengers,” Wang Hongwei, a public security expert at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.
“It is also very difficult for buses to have similar security inspections to those used in subway stations, which makes [buses] more vulnerable to attack,” noted Wang.
Source: Global Times