Suspect in fatal China bus fire had left suicide note

Blaze on bus on elevated road in Xiamen killed 47 people and injured 34 others

Smoke spirals from a bus on fire   in Xiamen, Fujian province, yesterday, in which dozens of people were killed. Photograph: Reuters

Smoke spirals from a bus on fire in Xiamen, Fujian province, yesterday, in which dozens of people were killed. Photograph: Reuters


The suspect in a commuter bus fire that rattled a prosperous Chinese port city wrote a suicide note saying he was unhappy and angry before dying in the blaze, local authorities said.

The fire ripped through the bus as it travelled on an elevated road in Xiamen during yesterday’s evening rush, killing 47 people and injuring 34 more. It is unclear whether the suspect’s death is counted in the tally.

Police identified the suspect as Chen Shuizong after an onsite investigation, interviews and examination of evidence, including DNA, a government notice said. It said Chen was a local resident born in 1954 and that police found a suicide note in his home.

He was unhappy with life and set the fire to vent his anger, the city said. Xiamen’s municipal government issued the notice through state media and a Xiamen police microblog.

China has seen bombings and arson attacks on buses and public buildings in recent years by people trying to settle personal scores or who have overt political grievances.

In 2009, an unemployed man set fire to a packed bus in the central city of Chengdu, killing himself and 26 others. In other cases, people angry or unhappy with life have used knives or other weapons in attacks on children at schools.

In a microblogging account reported to be Chen’s, the writer claimed to be destitute and pleaded for an opportunity to live. The last entries were made on Thursday, the day before the fire — when the writer chronicled his frustrated efforts to get a local police station to correct his age so he could be eligible for social security payments.

The microblogging account was removed today.

After the fire, emergency responders found bodies piled inside the charred, skeletal bus. Investigators said the fire appeared to have been intentionally set. State media reported gasoline traces were found, though the bus ran on diesel fuel.

Xiamen had suspended service of the entire express bus system after yesteray’s fire, but operations resumed on Saturday morning.

Earlier this week a fire at a poultry slaughterhouse in northeastern China killed 120. Authorities said safety management at the plant was a “total mess” and have detained two senior executives.

President Xi Jinping, visiting California for a summit with US president Barack Obama, has demanded that his government pay closer attention to preventing fires, Xinhua said.

“Life is precious, and lives cannot be sacrificed in the pursuit of development,” it cited him as saying. “Lessons must be learned from this spilling of blood and bitter experience.”