Three people - two men and a woman - are suspected of "setting themselves on fire" in a car in Beijing's busiest shopping district Wednesday afternoon, according to a Xinhua report quoting official sources.
The two injured are a couple, said the Beijing Jishuitan Hospital where they are receiving emergency treatment. The hospital specializes in burn injuries.
The man, 59, has serious burns and a severely injured respiratory tract. He may need a tracheotomy, a hospital official told Xinhua.
The woman, 58, has seriously burnt fingers and the hospital said it was considering an amputation.
The third person is believed to be in police custody.
The motive for the attempted self-immolation and the identities of the three people were not disclosed; and the Xinhua report only said the three people came to Beijing to submit "personal petitions".
The report, quoting the Beijing government information office, differed from an earlier Beijing police statement which said the three set their car on fire.
The car, with a non-Beijing license plate and the three people aboard, suddenly caught fire in downtown Wangfujing at around 2:50 pm when several police officers approached it after they found "something wrong", the police statement said.
Police quickly extinguished the fire, the statement said, adding two of the passengers had been taken to hospital and there was no fatality.
There was no mention of the third person.
Witnesses told China Daily the three were a middle-aged man, an elderly man and an elderly woman. The car was a Cherry QQ, with three red flags on the roof.
Portraits of State leaders were on the dashboard, and the woman was trying to put out the fire with a blanket, witnesses said.