A blaze that engulfed a bus in Chengdu killing 27 people and injuring 74 early last month was believed to be the work of a suicide-arsonist, local police said yesterday.
Xinhua said the suspect was a 62-year-old unemployed man named Zhang Yunliang , a native of Suzhou, Jiangsu, who was living temporarily in Sichuan's capital. Zhang was fatally burned at the rear of the bus after starting the fire, Xinhua quoted police as saying.
The report said Zhang was a gambling addict who regularly visited prostitutes, and had relied on his daughter's support since he lost his job in 2006. He threatened to commit suicide after his family reduced his financial support.
Zhang sent a letter to his daughter on June 4, the day before the blaze, saying he would 'disappear the next day' and 'die in a different way to others'. His family received the letter four days after the accident, but it did not give any further details on the tragedy.
Police said analysis of the scene showed Zhang was the closest person to a can of petrol that caused the blazed. His posture proved he was not attempting to escape. The fire raised concern over the lack of safety hammers on the bus, as witnesses said they had seen trapped passengers banging their heads against the windows trying to break the glass.