Skip to main content

5 dead after jeep crashes and catches fire in Beijing's Tiananmen Square

By Jethro Mullen. David McKenzie and Steven Jiang, CNN
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Mon October 28, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The driver, two passengers and two tourists are dead, according to authorities
  • NEW: 38 people are injured, state media reports, and 11 were taken to the hospital
  • The vehicle hit the guardrail of a bridge and burst into flames, Xinhua reports
  • The fire has been put out, but the area remains under a heavy police presence

Beijing (CNN) -- Five people are dead after a jeep plowed into a crowded part of Tiananmen Square and caught fire Monday, authorities said.

The crash temporarily blocked off a busy area in the heart of the Chinese capital as rescuers and police rushed to the scene.

Police said the crash happened around noon local time in front of the Tiananmen Rostrum, a structure that stands at the entrance to the Forbidden City bearing a giant portrait of Mao Zedong.

The vehicle hit the guardrail of the Jinshui Bridge over the moat of the Forbidden City before it burst into flames, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The driver of the jeep and two passengers were killed, Beijing police said in a statement. The other two fatalities were tourists -- a Filipino woman and a Chinese man, according to state media reports. At least 38 people were injured, state media said. Eleven injured people, a mixture of tourists and police officers, have been taken to the hospital, Xinhua said.

Photographs circulating on social media showed a vehicle engulfed in flames in Tiananmen Square. CNN wasn't immediately able to verify the authenticity of the images.

Authorities moved quickly to tackle the blaze and clear up the scene. But the cause of the deadly crash remained unclear.

Around 2:30 p.m., authorities were barring tourists from entering the area in front of the Tiananmen Rostrum and the center of Tiananmen Square. Both areas are usually packed with mostly Chinese tourists.

Dozens of police vans, along with uniformed and plainclothes officers, were gathered at the site of the crash. Workers scrubbed the concrete, and there was no sign of the vehicle or any residue from the fire.

The Tiananmen East subway station and part of the Tiananmen West station were temporarily closed, the subway operator said. Roads in the area soon reopened, and traffic was flowing normally by midafternoon.

Tiananmen Square is China's most politically sensitive landmark as a result of the events of June 4, 1989, when government forces opened fire on civilians to quash pro-democracy demonstrations.

The square is often closed or put under heightened security before and during major events.

The previous noteworthy case of a vehicle catching fire in the area was in February 2009, when three people tried to set themselves on fire after police stopped them just east of the square.

Two of those three people, petitioners from out of town, were injured in that blaze.

CNN's David McKenzie and Steven Jiang reported from Beijing, and Jethro Mullen reported and wrote from Hong Kong.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:29 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
updated 1:38 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
updated 1:45 AM EDT, Tue September 9, 2014
Reforms to the grueling gaokao - the competitive college entrance examination - don't make the grade, says educator Jiang Xueqin.
updated 8:18 AM EDT, Fri September 5, 2014
Beijing grapples with reports from Iraq that a Chinese national fighting for ISIS has been captured.
updated 10:00 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
CNN's David McKenzie has tasted everything from worms to grasshoppers while on the road; China's cockroaches are his latest culinary adventure.
updated 8:57 PM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
Beijing rules only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive.
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
China warns the United States to end its military surveillance flights near Chinese territory.
updated 11:12 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
China has produced elite national athletes but some argue the emphasis on winning discourages children. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports
updated 1:13 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
updated 5:08 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
updated 12:52 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
updated 3:42 PM EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
updated 12:10 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
updated 3:12 AM EDT, Wed July 30, 2014
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
ADVERTISEMENT