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San Francisco tour bus crashes, injuring 20 people

A double-decker tourist bus ran out of control in San Francisco's crowded Union Square injuring 20 people, including six critically.

The bus hit a cyclist, at least two pedestrians and struck several cars before it ploughed into scaffolding lining a construction site.

Union Square is one of the city's most popular tourist destinations with several upmarket stores, including Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as its Union Square Park and skating rink.

The scaffolding was in front of what is going to be a new Apple store.

The square was crowded with shoppers and tourists when, according to eyewitnesses, the bus came roaring across it at a high rate of speed.

It struck several moving vehicles in its path as well as the cyclist and the two pedestrians, the latter ending up trapped underneath the vehicle after it hit the scaffolding.

It also knocked down several power lines used to propel the city's fleet of electrical buses.

Firefighters had to extricate the two people under the bus as well as one trapped on the top deck, city f ire chief Joanne Hayes-White said.

As many as 30 people were believed to have been on board when the vehicle went out of control.

The driver was conscious and able to speak when firefighters pulled him from the wreckage, Ms Hayes-White said.

But she added it was too early to speculate about what caused him to lose control.

"The police department will investigate what those circumstances involved, whether it was mechanical failure, whether it was driver error. It's way too early to tell right now," she said.

The six people in critical condition are three men and three women between the ages of 20 and 60, San Francisco General Hospital spokesman Brent Andrew said.

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