Petrol carried by bus passengers caused blaze that killed 27

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 June, 2009, 12:00am

Petrol carried by passengers caused the bus blaze that killed 27 people on Friday in Chengdu, Sichuan, investigators have confirmed.

However, they said it was too early to tell whether someone had lit the fire deliberately.

'Through our investigation, we conclude that someone, either deliberately or accidentally, carried petrol onto the bus and caused the fire,' said He Jiansheng, the official in charge of the investigation.

Mr He said their investigation showed there were no signs of fuel leaks or engine problems, and they also ruled out the possibility of a bomb attack after inspecting the wreckage of the vehicle.

'There was no evidence of explosive devices or batteries ... and there were also no signs of a bomb attack from the autopsies of the 25 victims,' he said.

Twenty-five of the 27 victims were killed at the scene, and 74 people were still in Chengdu hospitals, 18 of them in critical condition.

The investigators' conclusion appeared to corroborate what witnesses had described.

The Henan -based Zhengzhou Evening News quoted a student passenger as saying he had seen a man deliberately pour liquid out of a bottle before he caught a strong smell of petrol.

The student and three of his friends jumped out of the only open window after the fire began. Other witnesses also said they smelled petrol in the middle and rear of the bus, but nobody really saw clearly where it came from.

Chengdu police have asked witnesses to provide video clips or photos of the accident taken with their mobile phones or digital cameras, to assist the investigation.

The conclusion did not spare the bus company from its share of responsibility.

Li Shuguang, chairman of the Beixing Bus Company of the Chengdu Public Transport Group and general manager of the group, stepped down from his posts on Sunday, according to, Sichuan's official news website.

'I hope my resignation will direct society's attention to the safety of public transport and help make the urban public transport network safer and more convenient,' Mr Li told Xinhua.

Lai Siguo - deputy party secretary of the Chengdu State Assets Regulatory Bureau, which supervises the bus company - said employees of the bus company, including Mr Li, would be dealt with in accordance with the law and regulations when the investigation was over.

Nine slightly burned passengers had recovered and left for home yesterday afternoon. No updates were available yesterday on the 18 patients in critical condition.

The Ministry of Health sent five burns experts to Chengdu yesterday.