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Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Attack on a bus - Arson - Suicide
Number of victims: 26
Date of murders: June 5, 2009
Date of birth: November 26, 1948
Victims profile: Bus passengers
Method of murder: Fire (gasoline)
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Status: Died in the fire
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The 2009 Chengdu bus fire was a mass murder suicide attack on a bus that occurred in Chengdu, China on June 5, 2009. It resulted in 27 deaths, and 76 injuries.

The arsonist was an unemployed man in his sixties named Zhang Yunliang, native of Suzhou, Jiangsu, who was also killed in the fire. Zhang reportedly threatened suicide because his family refused to continue supporting him financially.


The diesel bus was engulfed in flames at around 8:00 am local time. The number of casualties was aggravated by the rear door not opening, and firefighters and other emergency service crews being blocked 1 km from the scene by bad traffic.

The exact cause of the fire was not immediately known by the Chinese government, but the diesel engines were intact and authorities quickly determined that a mechanical glitch did not cause the fire.

Gasoline carried on board by a passenger was soon blamed, and authorities did not rule out arson as the cause as the investigation proceeded. Several passengers, including the bus driver, reported smelling gasoline, and traces of gasoline were found in the bus, which did not use gasoline as fuel.

Following the government probe, investigators stated that gasoline brought on board by a passenger did indeed cause the fire, but they could not immediately determine if the fire was a deliberate act of arson or an accident. The initial probe did rule out an explosion as the cause of the fire. Pedestrians outside the bus rushed to help break the windows to allow passengers to escape. PRC national law does not require buses to maintain hammers for the purpose of breaking the windows in an emergency, but remains of 3 emergency hammers were found at the scene. The bus was built in February 2005 and had logged 270,000 km at the time of the incident.

Including those who died in hospital following the incident, the total death toll was 27.

The arsonist was later identified as 62-year-old unemployed Zhang Yunliang, a native of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, who temporarily lived in Chengdu. Mr Zhang had previously threatened suicide after his family reduced his financial support. The night before the arson, Zhang told his daughter he wanted to "die differently". Zhang had been addicted to gambling before arriving in Chengdu in 2006, and was dependent on the financial assistance from his daughter.


The fire ultimately affected 101 families. Following the incident, Li Shuguang, the chairman of the bus company resigned, saying he hoped his resignation would "arouse society's attention to the safety of public transport."

A bus company in Chengdu promised to financially reward passengers who report others who bring flammable liquids or other prohibited items onboard. Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shenyang, and Guangzhou reacted by reviewing bus safety measures.

The coastal city of Haikou reacted by outfitting public buses with 400 emergency hammers, but over half of the hammers were stolen from the buses within three days. As local hospitals were running low on blood needed for transfusions to help the victims, over 60 Chengdu citizens and 55 soldiers volunteered for blood donations after an urgent call from hospital authorities.

In the days after the Chengdu bus fire, buses also caught fire in in Shenzhen on June 13, in Wuhai on June 15 and in Zhoushan on June 16. There was no evidence initially of any terrorist connection, and no passengers were killed in the three other bus fires. The Shenzhen government responded to the bus fires in Chengdu and Shenzhen by declaring that the city's kindergarten buses must be equipped with GPS.



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