Six suspects have been arrested in connection with a fire that left 41 people dead and six others injured Friday in Central China’s Henan Province, according to local police.
They are currently in criminal detention and authorities are investigating the accident, but no information has been released, Xinyang public security bureau told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The deadly fire aboard a double-decker sleeper bus on the Beijing-Zhuhai Highway in Xinyang was ignited by inflammable material illegally taken by a passenger.
According to Zou Jianzhou, driver of the overloaded bus, the inflammable material was placed near the engine. The fire spread so fast that no one had time to react.
Lao Dongyan, a professor at Tsinghua University School of Law, said if convicted the suspects could face stiff penalties.
“It’s crucial to decide the nature of the inflammable chemical product. If it was explosive, the maximum sentence could be the death penalty, but if it is judged to be dangerous goods, the suspects can be sentenced to seven years in jail at most,” She said.
China Pacific Insurance (CPIC) has established an accident compensation group to deal with this case, which has prepaid 5 million yuan ($774,000) to victims’ families.
The bus was designed to carry 35 passengers, but 47 people were on board.
Vice Minister of Transport Feng Zhenglin said on Sunday, every sleeper bus should be installed with a GPS and surveillance camera so headquarters can monitor procedures.