Van drives into pedestrians outside Shanghai Starbucks

Eighteen people have been injured, three seriously, after a vehicle mounted the footpath in a busy part of central Shanghai and ploughed into pedestrians, the city government says.

The Shanghai government has issued a short statement, saying the vehicle hit pedestrians on a road running next to People's Square on Friday (local time).

The vehicle was on fire, the statement added, without saying if the fire happened before the incident occurred.

The flames were extinguished and an investigation is underway, the government said.

Shanghai-based news portal The Paper said the vehicle was a minivan and cited eyewitnesses as saying it was on fire, as it drove onto the pavement and knocked people down, before coming to a stop in front of a Starbucks outlet.

Some bystanders tried to break the window of the vehicle and drag out the six people in the vehicle, including the driver, the report said.

Other witnesses told the news outlet that there were gas cylinders in the vehicle.

The story was later removed from the new outlet's website and replaced with the Shanghai government's short statement on the incident.

Footage on Chinese social media, which Reuters could not independently verify, showed smoke coming out of the vehicle and people lying flat on the ground, injured in the street.

While the police statement did not suggest this was intentional, there have been cases in China of people who have carried out similar acts, seeking to settle personal scores.

Reuters