Yesterday afternoon, a car crashed into the main gate at Tiananmen Square and burst into flames. The Beijing police promptly cordoned-off the scene, and Xinhua has been tight-lipped about any details. It’s difficult to know what the hell just happened, but here’s what we’re looking at so far.
Five killed and 38 injured. According to Bloomberg, there were three people in the vehicle—a white SUV (or maybe a jeep)—all of whom died. The additional two deaths were tourists (one from the Philippines, one from Guangdong) who were hit by the truck.
The car passengers’ identities are still unknown (well, unpublished) but a leaked document revealed that Beijing authorities may be searching for “2 Xinjiang suspects with cars.” While that could certainly develop into a key part of this story, it hasn’t yet developed further than the leaked memo.
Nobody knows. According to The Guardian:
Within minutes of the crash, authorities erected high blue and green barriers around the site and temporarily blocked roads to the square. Transport authorities said that the underground station on Tiananmen’s east side had also been closed. […]
Two reporters from AFP were detained on the scene “with images deleted from their digital equipment”, the newswire reported.[…]
By late afternoon the wreckage had been cleared and parts of the square reopened.
Information flowing out of Beijing has been severely limited by the police forces’ quick cleaning-up of the scene, and many photos were, fortunately, salvaged from Weibo before being deleted.
Tiananmen Square, Beijing. This is one of only two things we know 100% for sure.
Yesterday (October 28th) at 12:05 in the afternoon, give or take a few minutes. This is the other thing that we know 100% for sure.
With great amounts of gusto, as the LA Times reports:
[The] white sport utility vehicle entered a sidewalk and drove nearly 500 yards, plowing through tourists and police, until it stopped near the iconic portrait of Mao Tse-tung that hangs over the main gate in front of Tiananmen Square. […]
Separating the street from the sidewalk are 5-foot-high white steel barricades—designed to prevent the type of attack that took place Monday.
However, the white sport utility vehicle appears to have entered at one of the few openings in the barricades, some 500 yards to the east of the square at the intersection of Nanchizi, a street running perpendicular to the main Chang’an Street. The driver then headed along the sidewalk toward the enormous Mao portrait, which hangs over the vermillion-walled “Gate of Heavenly Peace” (or Tiananmen Gate) that leads into the Forbidden City, erstwhile home of China’s emperors.
Time will tell, hopefully.