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By Dawn Liu and Linda Givetash

BEIJING — Panic ensued after a vehicle drove into a busy public square Wednesday night in south central China, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens.

At least 46 people were hurt, three of them seriously, when a red Land Rover plowed into a crowd at 7:40 p.m. local time (7:40 am ET), the media office in Hengyang said.

Rednet, an official media outlet in Hunan Province, said the suspect stabbed a number of people after getting out of his vehicle. Videos on social media showed people lying scattered across the square following the incident.

The male driver was arrested and the cause of the incident remained under investigation, local media said.

Rednet identified the suspect as Yang Zanyun. Legal records in China show a string of criminal convictions over the years, including for robbery in 2017, extortion in 2009 and negligently causing a fire in 2006.

Hengyang is the second largest city in the Hunan province with over 1 million inhabitants.

Dawn Liu reported from Beijing and Linda Givetash from London.

Reuters contributed.