Man arrested over arson attempt at Guangzhou's Metro

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 January, 2011, 12:00am

A man suspected of starting the first fire on Guangzhou's Metro since it opened more than a decade ago was arrested yesterday morning, the city's Public Security Bureau said.

The suspect, from Hunan, was arrested at 5am yesterday in the city's northern Baiyun district, a statement posted on the bureau's website said.

Guangzhou's Yangcheng Evening News reported that the suspect was upset by his 'bad luck' in life and planned to set fire to a 5kg gas bottle on the Metro's No 5 line, which passed through the city centre.

It said the suspect had planned to ignite the gas bottle at 10.30pm on Monday while the train was close to Guangzhou Railway Station, usually crowded with tens of thousands of passengers. But his plan failed when he burned his hands while trying to start the fire, it said.

The man escaped but felt remorseful when he got home and turned himself in to police at the Baiyun district's Renhe police station.

The Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis News quoted some witnesses as saying that at least two passengers were injured.

But Public Security Bureau and Metro officials denied that anyone was hurt. They said the fire was extinguished quickly and all passengers evacuated at Guangzhou Railway Station.

The Metro operator said services were suspended for just nine minutes as a result of the arson attempt.

'It is the first such incident in the history of Guangzhou's Metro,' spokesman Ye Zichuan said, adding similar attempts had been averted in the past because dangerous goods had been discovered before they reached the train. It is believed that the suspect carried the gas bottle onto the train in a bag.

Some passengers suggested that the Metro resume the tight security checks temporarily implemented during the Asian Games in November.

But Ye said that would change the nature of the Metro as an easy and convenient mode of public transport.