BEIJING: A minivan today crashed into pedestrians after veering onto a crowded sidewalk in China's financial hub Shanghai, injuring 18 people, three of them seriously, according to media reports.
Police, however, believe the crash was not intentional and it was an accident and not an attack, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The 40-year-old driver was identified by police as a 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 champagne-coloured minivan was moving from Xinchang Road to West Nanjing Road when it went out of control and crashed into the sidewalk, the report said.
The vehicle was on fire before crashing into the sidewalk in front of the cafe around the Shanghai People's Park, local media reported.
Eighteen people were injured in the incident. Three of those injured are said to be in a serious condition, the report said.
A video posted by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post showed the van was on fire and thick smoke emanated from it.
Photos posted on the Weibo, Chinese version of Twitter showed several people lying on the ground and fire fighters trying to put off the fire.
A witness, identified only by her surname Qian, said that immediately after the incident, some passers-by broke the vehicle window with stones to get to the driver, Shanghai- based news portal The Paper reported.
"I think the driver had passed out. People had to break the window to save him," Qian was quoted as saying by the Post.
Another witness, who was not identified, said: "There were gas bottles in the vehicle. The van was burning but the bottles did to catch fire".
"There were six persons in the van. A woman whom rescuers pulled out was badly burnt," the witness said.
A passer-by wrote in a WeChat post that a few people were trapped under the van after the incident.