Arson suspected in deadly Ningxia, China bus fire

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Media captionWatch: Fire engulfed the bus trapping people inside

Seventeen people have been killed in a suspected arson attack on a public bus in the northern Chinese province of Ningxia, say local authorities.

Officials in the city of Yinchuan said the bus suddenly caught fire at around 07:00 local time (23:00 GMT Monday), trapping some people inside.

Amateur footage posted online showed the bus engulfed in flames.

Police later arrested a man in connection with the incident in which 32 people were also hurt.

State broadcaster CCTV said that a suspect in the fire incident, Ma Yongping, was arrested by police after he threatened to kill himself.

Authorities had earlier released a statement via local media naming him as a "major suspect".

A police spokesman was quoted on Yinchuan city's official microblog as saying their initial conclusion was that the case was an "intentional criminal act of arson".

China has seen several cases of arson on public transport in recent years.

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Image caption Officials have named a suspect in connection to the bus fire in Yinchuan

Officials had previously said 14 people had died in the fire, but upgraded the death toll to 17 later in the day. The city's deputy mayor was quoted on the microblog as saying they had found more bodies after a second search of the bus.

A public transport official said the capacity of the bus was 84 people. Previous reports said that more than 40 people were on board at the time of the incident.

All the injured have been sent to a hospital for treatment - eight people were severely injured.

State news agency Xinhua said that the bus driver escaped with minor injuries.

Along with several accidents there have been cases of fires being deliberately started on public transport in recent years, as was the case in June 2013 when 48 people died on a Xiamen bus. Authorities said then that a suicidal man had started the fire.

In 2014 a man, also said to have been suicidal, started a fire on a bus in Hangzhou that injured more than 30 people.

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