BEIJING — A public bus caught fire and was swiftly engulfed in flames Thursday, killing five people and injuring 32 in the southwestern Chinese city of Guiyang, officials said.
One witness said that the bus was no more than 20 meters (yards) from him when he heard an explosion. Photos circulating online showed the bright blue and green vehicle enveloped in blazing flames and black smoke. Later photos showed the bus burned to its frame.
"After some sparks gleamed in the middle of the bus, it all of sudden got engulfed in a sea of flames," said garage worker Zeng Xi. "I couldn't see how many passengers were on the bus because of the dark smoke, but noticed a middle-aged man jump out a window. It only took a few minutes for the inferno to destroy the whole bus."
The bus started to burn on a Guiyang street shortly after noon, but the cause was not clear and was under investigation, Guiyang authorities said on an official microblog. City police and fire officials said the fire was extinguished, but could not offer more details when reached over the phone.
Media reports said the bus was carrying about 50 passengers when it caught fire near an elementary school.
Last year, a man set fire to a commuter bus in the southeastern port city of Xiamen, killing himself and 46 others. A deadly bus fire in 2009 killed 27, including the arsonist, in the central city of Chengdu.