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SHANGHAI (AP) — A minivan crashed into pedestrians on a busy sidewalk in downtown Shanghai on Friday morning in what police say they believe was an accident with the driver smoking while transporting gas tanks through the heart of the Chinese financial hub.

A total of 18 people were sent to hospitals for treatment after the crash Friday morning, with three reported to be seriously injured.

The van veered onto a sidewalk and burst into flames around 9 a.m. near People’s Park, the Shanghai government said.

Local media reported the vehicle was carrying six people and several tanks of gas.

Videos on social media showed injured people lying on the pavement next to a Starbucks cafe.

The crash occurred around the time British Prime Minister Theresa May was delivering a speech at a business event in Shanghai.

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(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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