Dozens of police vehicles were stationed along intersections on Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue this morning, a day after a sport-utility vehicle killed five people when it crashed into a crowd by Tiananmen Square.
Police were also stopping and inspecting some cars driving past Tiananmen gate where the portrait of Mao Zedong hangs and the site of the incident yesterday. Of those killed, three were inside the vehicle and the other two were tourists from the Philippines and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday. Another 38 people were injured, according to Xinhua. An investigation of the incident is underway, it said.
Pictures of the incident posted by users of Sina Corp.’s Twitter-like Weibo service showed a car in flames at the scene, billowing smoke. The vehicle crashed into a guardrail at the gate, which is just north of Tiananmen Square and an entrance to the Forbidden City, before bursting into flames at noontime yesterday, according to Xinhua.
Authorities had by 2:30 p.m. yesterday put up blue and green canvas covering a portion of the area at Tiananmen gate, which was sealed off by police. Car traffic on Chang’an Avenue, which runs between the gate and Tiananmen Square, had returned to normal by then after Beijing’s transportation department said earlier it was halted.
Among those injured yesterday were tourists from the Philippines and Japan, Xinhua reported. They were taken to local hospital for treatment, according to the report.
Tiananmen Square, located at the center of the capital, has been subject to tight security since the government violently put down student protests there in 1989. Individuals and their belongings are subject to security screenings before entering.
A similar incident occurred in 2009, when three people inside a car set themselves on fire at the intersection of Wangfujing and Chang’an avenues, located a few blocks from Tiananmen Square. The three were in Beijing for “personal petitions,” Xinhua reported at the time.
Earlier this year, a wheelchair-bound man set off a homemade bomb at Beijing’s international airport to protest what he said was a beating by police in 2005. He lost his hand in the July blast and a police officer suffered minor injuries.