Anger over crash response in Fuan city sparks riot against police

Fuan residents attack ambulance and police van; latest in series of minor incidents to boil over

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 4:50am

Residents of a Fujian province city smashed an ambulance and overturned three police vans after a car crash over the weekend, as yet another relatively minor incidents resulted in public unrest on the mainland.

The riot in Fuan city appears to have started on Saturday night after a man driving without a licence fled police and struck three scooters and another car, injuring five people.

Onlookers, who included friends of relatives of the victims, grew increasingly upset when it took nearly and hour for ambulances and eventually attacked the authorities. Some witnesses also blamed police for causing the crash, according to residents and internet users.

A photo of the scene circulated on Sina Weibo showed scores of people crowded around two white vans overturned in the middle of the street.

A waiter at nearby restaurant, who declined to give his full name, said that police detained around 20 people after the riot and that tensions had died down.

"There are more police patrolling around today, but restaurants and shops are open as normal," he said.

Four of the injured crash victims were still in hospital, while the remaining victim had been treated and released according to a statement issued by the publicity department of Ningde , which oversees Fuan.

It was the latest in a string of minor incidents to result in public uprisings. Last month, protestors in Luzhou, Sichuan province, overturned and burnt seven police in anger over the suspicious death of a truck driver after he quarrelled with traffic police.

Authorities blamed Saturday's crash on the driver, who they said had recently used drugs and was aware he was driving without a licence.

The government said the driver sped up after seeing a police car and continued to accelerate despite the patrolman's order for him to stop. He crossed into the opposing lane and crashed head-on into a scooter, before striking a car and two more scooters.

While the official statement did not explain exactly how the officers attempted to stop the driver, internet users and locals contended police caused the crash by giving chase.

Moreover, friends and relatives of the injured were angry that medical assistance did not arrive until 50 minutes after the accident, according to a widely circulated post on Sina Weibo.

The government statement said the ambulance was late to respond because it was occupied transporting other patients. But one internet user said they ambulance was occupied because the city of 600,000 has just two ambulances.