5 dead after jeep crashes and catches fire in Beijing's Tiananmen Square
October 28, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
- 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.
Part of complete coverage on
As China's annual parliamentary meetings kick off, Beijing gauges progress on key economic reforms outlined last year.
March 7, 2014 -- Updated 0719 GMT (1519 HKT)
For some local Hong Kongers, the local economy is being geared to the needs of cashed-up Chinese day-trippers, rather than locals.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 1027 GMT (1827 HKT)
Vladimir Putin is seeking China's support in Russia's standoff with Western powers over Ukraine.
February 27, 2014 -- Updated 0824 GMT (1624 HKT)
What's the story with WeChat, the messaging app taking China by storm?
February 28, 2014 -- Updated 0501 GMT (1301 HKT)
Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke speaks to CNN about his time in China.
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 0449 GMT (1249 HKT)
Limited investment options in China means real estate has been a popular choice for consumers looking to expand their portfolios.
February 27, 2014 -- Updated 0140 GMT (0940 HKT)
It's sexy, sophisticated, skintight, and started as a Chinese feminist statement. Here's the story of China's "cheongsam"
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Linkedin, the networking site for professionals, has done what few other foreign online services have achieved -- it has successfully set up its China operations.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 0408 GMT (1208 HKT)
With its tradition of free speech, Hong Kongers pride themselves on their strong opinions -- but now local journalists say they are being shut up.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1019 GMT (1819 HKT)
Beijingers are once again choking as smog levels hit "heavy or even worse" levels in the capital and other cities across the country.
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
China has urged U.S. President Barack Obama to call off a meeting at the White House with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
Far from being censored, the U.S. political drama 'House of Cards' is widely available in China -- and surprisingly popular.
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 0833 GMT (1633 HKT)
Like many companies in China, Fu Shou Yuan uses celebrities to attract clients. Except, in this case, they're dead.
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 0319 GMT (1119 HKT)
On the Reporters Without Borders map of global press freedom, China appears as one big black spot.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
The panda was whipped by zookeepers, was fed corn cakes instead of bamboo, and lived in a home full of feces, say visitors.
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
A Miami artist has destroyed a $1 million Ai Weiwei vase as a "spontaneous protest."
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
Two Russian thrillseekers scaled the unfinished Shanghai Tower in the city's financial district -- and lived to tell the tale.
Today's five most popular stories