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Sabotage not ruled out in fatal bus blaze

Sabotage can not be ruled out as the cause of a bus blaze that killed at least 25 people and injured 76 others on Friday in southwest China's Chengdu City, an official said yesterday.

Hu Qinghan, director of the Chengdu Communications Commission, said an initial investigation suggested that self-combustion or a mechanical problem could not have caused the blaze.

"The blaze was not fueled by diesel in the oil tank. Investigators found the tank still contained 107 liters of diesel and no mechanical glitch was found in the engine," said Hu.

The accident occurred in morning rush hour, when the No. 9 bus was on its way from Tianhui Township to downtown Chengdu. It caught fire under the Chuanshan Viaduct.

Mao Zhixiong, a government spokesman, said DNA had been collected from the 25 victims to help confirm their identities, and 20 of the 76 injured passengers on the bus were still in a serious condition, most with burns.

Three slightly injured people had been discharged from hospital, he said. Of the remaining injured, 35 were male and 38 female. The oldest was 72, the youngest five.

"The bus had air conditioning and only the windows at the rearmost seats could be opened by hand," said 29-year-old Deng Huaqiong.

Deng was sitting in the second-back row and jumped out after someone opened the back window. She suffered slight burns but is still receiving treatment in hospital.

Passers-by smashed windows from the outside, helping to save some of the passengers.


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