Opinion / Zhu Ping

Bus fires expose design faults

By Zhu Ping ( Updated: 2014-07-17 10:29

In less than 10 days, a third bus fire erupted on Tuesday evening in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. The explosion happened as passengers were getting off the crowed No 301 bus. The flames spread very fast and just within five minutes the fire engulfed the whole bus. Up to now at least two people died and 32 were injured.

The latest series of bus fires cast a big shadow on China’s public transit safety, which is a big concern of ordinary Chinese. It’s high time for related authorities to take long- and short-time measures to improve bus designs to ensure safety.

Before the Guangzhou bus fire, a suspect tried to set a bus on fire in Changsha in Hunan last Friday, but fortunately he was stopped in time. But the bus fire in Hangzhou in Zhejiang province on July 5 left 32 passengers severely burned and injured.

Such sporadic and unexpected bus fire accidents have created shock waves among the bus passengers, because the fires are so close to their ordinary life. For many people the buses are their only choice to commute. For instance, in Beijing, the number of bus trips made by passengers can reach more than 20 million on a single day, and the number in Guangzhou on average reaches more than 7 million.

In fact, after two similar extreme cases in Chengdu in 2009 and in Xiamen last year, which claimed dozens of lives and injured more, bus drivers, passengers, and even passersby have raised the sense of safety and act much faster compared with the two previous shocking fires. It’s an important reason why in the latest three accidents, the numbers of casualties are smaller.

In the Hangzhou case, many people working nearby rushed to break the windows with different tools and helped to put out the fire with their own extinguishers. However, in the accident Tuesday night, people nearby tried to join in the rescue but failed in getting close to the bus because the fire was too large and spread too fast.

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