A driver smashed into pedestrians at a busy intersection in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, killing at least five people and injuring more than a dozen others, police and videos posted online said.
Officials arrested a 22-year-old man and were trying to determine a motive, according to the city’s Public Safety Bureau. Videos showed the driver throwing money in the air after hitting people and before being arrested.
The incident, which took place during the afternoon rush hour on Wednesday, sparked shock and anger online and in Guangzhou, a city of more than 18 million people and the capital of Guangdong province.
Footage of the scene in the busy Tianhe District showed a black BMW SUV entering the intersection of Tianhe Road and Tiyu East Road at high speed and making turns, hitting pedestrians and motorists at several intersections.
After that, the victims lay motionless and bloodied on the streets, scattered shoes and phones scattered around them. “There was a collective wail,” wrote Hym Chu, a 25-year-old photographer, in a post on Weibo, a Twitter-like social platform. “Everyone ran.”
Mr Chu said he stayed at the chaotic scene for two hours, getting supplies for the injured and helping move a delivery worker’s damaged motorcycle.
In video of the driver filmed while being pinned to the ground, he called out that his uncle was Huang Kunming, secretary of the Communist Party of Guangdong Province. It was unclear whether that was true.
It’s rare for vehicles to be intentionally driven into crowds in China, but reckless driving of luxury cars has sometimes fueled public anger and struck a nerve in a country with a severe wealth gap.
More than a decade ago, the son of Li Gang, a deputy police chief, killed a college student while drunk driving his Volkswagen sedan in the northeastern city of Baoding. When he was arrested, he shouted, “My father is Li Gang!” Propaganda officials tried to cover up the incident, but the phrase became a grim joke, symbolizing the impunity of powerful local officials and those associated with them.
Within hours of the Guangzhou incident on Wednesday, it became one of the top trending topics on Weibo, with many users denouncing the senseless deaths and belittling the driver. As of Thursday morning, several graphic videos and photos of the scene had been removed by censors.
Olivia Wang contributed to the coverage.