World

Bomb blasts kill at least 18 in Bangkok

At least 18 people have been killed after two bombs went off simultaneously near a tourist hotspot in Bangkok on Monday (Aug 17) evening.

The blast occurred at an intersection in the Ratchaprasong area near the popular Erawan shrine, a site dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, which attracts thousands of visitors a day.

Several Singaporeans were among those injured by the blasts, according to Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

"Our embassy staff are rendering the necessary consular assistance to the affected Singaporeans. They are also in contact with the Thai authorities to check if there are any more Singaporeans affected by the bomb blast," said an MFA spokesman.

“Singapore strongly condemns the bomb blast in Bangkok and is saddened by the loss of innocent lives. We convey our condolences to the families of the victims and hope the injured will have a speedy recovery.

According to the Bangkok Post, the explosions were caused by an improvised explosive device strapped to a utility pole located outside the shrine in tandem with a bomb concealed by a motorcycle at around 7pm.

Twelve people were declared dead on the scene while six died later.

Two more unexploded devices, including one attached to a pillar supporting a section of the Thai capital's mass rapid transit system, were found and defused.

Authorities have declared that the area is now secure.

At least 117 others – mostly foreign tourists – have been injured by the dual explosions, with a BBC correspondent on the scene saying that "body parts (were) scattered everywhere".

A majority of the injured persons were sent to Police General Hospital and Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital.

A video reportedly shows CCTV footage of the explosion, shown below, has also been circulated online.

 

Rumours that a state of emergency had been declared were debunked, with Thai army chief General Udomdej Sitabutr quoted on the Bangkok Post's Twitter saying: "No enforcement of the state of emergency decree in Bangkok."

Apart from the Erawan shrine, the blast area has a high amount of human traffic with three major shopping malls situated in the area along with a five-star hotel.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

While Thailand's defence minister Prawit Wongsuwan sent his condolences to the families of the victims, the deputy prime minister said that it was too soon to ascertain a motive for the attack.

He did add that "it was clear that the perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism, because it occurred in the heart of (Bangkok's) business district" to maximise human casualties.

Sources: Bangkok Post, BBC, AFP

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