BEIJING (AP/AFP): Chinese state media reported 18 people were hospitalised after a minivan ploughed into pedestrians in front of Starbucks in a bustling area in downtown Shanghai.
— China Plus News (@ChinaPlusNews) February 2, 2018
The vehicle mounted on the pavement in the busy district of Central Shanghai.
The vehicle was travelling along West Nanjing Road near the junction with Xinchang Road when it went out of control and crashed, according to Chinese media.
News agencies quoting local media reported that 18 people were injured, three seriously.
In a statement, the Shanghai government said the vehicle hit the pedestrians on a road running next to People's Square.
The South China Morning Post reported that the vehicle was on fire before mounting the pavement and crashing into a fence in front of the cafe on West Nanjing Road about 9am, local media reported.
The driver was identified by police as a 40-year-old man surnamed Chen. According to an initial investigation, he is thought to have been illegally transporting gas bottles and was smoking at the time of the crash.
The incident happened close to the gate 7 entrance to Shanghai People’s Park and near to several municipal government buildings.
The Shanghai government confirmed the number of casualties on its official Weibo account, the Post reported.
A government spokesperson said the victims were rushed to hospital for treatment, and that the the fire in the minivan had been put out.
No further details were given.
Videos shared on Chinese websites showed the aftermath of the incident.
Shanghai-based news portal Thepaper.cn qouted a witness, identified only by her surname Qian, who said that immediately after the crash, passers-by rushed to the vehicle and used stones to break a window to free the driver.
“I think the driver had passed out. People had to break the window to save him,” Qian said.
Another witness said: “There were gas cylinders in the vehicle. The van was burning but the cylinders did not catch fire.
“There were six people in the van. A woman whom rescuers pulled out was badly burnt in the face.”
A passer-by wrote in a post on a Chinese chat site that several people were trapped under the van after the incident.