China bus fire kills 47, probed as criminal case

China bus fire kills 47, probed as criminal case

China bus fire kills 47, probed as criminal case

A fire on a bus in southeastern China has killed 47 people and is being investigated as a "serious criminal case", state media said on Saturday, just days after 120 people died in a fire at a poultry plant.

The bus caught fire during rush hour on Friday as it was operating on elevated tracks in the coastal city of Xiamen, the official Xinhua news agency reported, without elaborating on the cause.

A total of 34 people were admitted to hospital.

The case has initially been identified as a "serious criminal case" and further investigations are under way, the report said.

"Investigation by experts and police has cast doubt on technical failure being the cause of the blaze," Xinhua added.

Xiamen police said on their official microblog that a suspect had been identified and that the case had achieved "a breakthrough development". It did not elaborate.

Earlier this week a fire at a poultry slaughterhouse in northeastern China killed 120. Authorities said safety management at the plant was a "total mess" and have detained two senior executives.

President Xi Jinping, visiting California for a summit with U.S. President Barack Obama, demanded his government pay closer attention to preventing fires, Xinhua said.

"Life is precious, and lives cannot be sacrificed in the pursuit of development," it cited him as saying. "Lessons must be learned from this spilling of blood and bitter experience."

Buses have been targeted before in China.

In 2009 a passenger ignited gasoline on a bus in southwestern Chengdu, killing 27 and injuring dozens more. Another 24 people died the same year in a shuttle bus fire in Wuxi, near Shanghai, started by a disgruntled steel worker.

In 2005 a 42-year-old farmer with terminal lung cancer set off a home-made bomb aboard a bus in southeastern China, in a suicide attack that wounded 31.