Videos have been circulating online of smoke billowing from an overturned jeep in front of Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

The clips showed officers pushing onlookers away from the vehicle, which lay overturned on Chang’an Avenue, the street passing in front of Tiananmen Square, the infamous scene of a massacre in 1989.

The incident occurred at 7:20 on Friday, Beijing traffic police said in a statement posted on its Weibo account. It said that a car accident occurred on the north side of the National Museum, without naming the square.

The driver and one passenger were injured, they said. Westbound traffic on Chang’an Avenue was congested for over an hour, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

On Friday evening, another statement was released, saying there was no alcohol content in the driver’s blood. The driver was a local 26-year-old man surnamed Zhang, it said.

The statement from Beijing police and a screenshot from the video. Photos: Weibo.

“Based on a preliminary investigation, the accident occurred due to Zhang improperly operating the vehicle on a slippery road.”

The police ended its statement by saying: “Concerning individual netizens fabricating false rumours, the police will handle these according to the law – at the same time, [we] urge the general public on the internet not to believe or spread rumours.”

“Video has been deleted due to violation of rules.” Photo: Screenshot from Miaopai.

Posts about the incident appear to have been censored, with videos previously posted on the Weibo microblogging site and other video sites removed. Comments on the Beijing traffic police’s original post have been disabled.

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.