A 40-year-old man lost control of his vehicle and plowed into pedestrians on a busy Shanghai street Friday morning, after the van he was driving caught fire, authorities said.
Eighteen people were injured, including the driver surnamed Chen, when the van mounted the sidewalk at an intersection in downtown Shanghai around 9 a.m., Shanghai police said in a statement.
The driver is currently in a coma and was the only person seriously hurt in the incident, the Shanghai city government press office said. Nine have already left the hospital, while the others were described as "lightly injured."
Chen, a worker at a Shanghai metal product company, was smoking and driving while carrying hazardous material "illegally," police said. Authorities also said that Chen had been illegally delivering liquid gas in recent years.
The People's Daily, a state-controlled newspaper, reported that the van was carrying a number of gas tanks at the time of the accident.
The fire in the car was extinguished by firefighters, authorities said, adding that none of the injured were in a life-threatening condition.
The crash took place in front of a Starbucks store at the intersection of West Nanjing and Xinchang Roads in the city's Huangpu District, the People's Daily reported.
In one video from the scene, a man lied motionless on the ground as pedestrians cried out and crowded around a brown van billowing dark smoke. In another, firefighters struggled to extinguish flames shooting up from inside the vehicle.
Police said in a statement the accident was under further investigation.
On Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, there appears to be very few posts on the topic by individual users, who are often quick to upload content when news breaks in public in major cities. State media outlets have mostly stuck to retweeting the government and police statements.
Starbucks said none of its staff or customers were injured in the accident. It added its store was closed while authorities investigated.