A large explosion rocked a central Bangkok intersection during the evening rush hour, killing at least 3 people and injuring 25 others, police said.
The cause of Monday’s explosion, which sounded like a loud thunderclap to people living nearby, was not immediately known. Police said the injured included some foreigners.
An Associated Press reporter at the scene said he saw one body and body parts. A reporter for the television station Thai PBS said he counted 12 bodies at the scene.
The explosion took place at the Rajprasong intersection, which was the center of many contentious political demonstrations in recent years. It appeared to have occurred in front of the Erawan Shrine, a tourist landmark also popular with Thais.
Thailand’s capital has been relatively peaceful since a military coup ousted a civilian government in May last year after several months of sometime violent political protests against the previous government.
However, there has been some tension in recent months as the ruling junta has made clear it may not hold elections until 2017 and wants a constitution that will allow some type of emergency rule to take the place of an elected government.
Car bombs are almost unknown in Bangkok, but have been used in southern Thailand, where a Muslim separatist insurgency has been flaring for several years.
UPDATE (17th August, 10:30pm):
According to The Guardian, body parts and mangled scooters were scattered across the street after the explosion outside the Erawan shrine in the central Chidlom district of the Thai capital. Dozens of ambulances are at the scene and a nearby metro station has been closed.
At least 2 bombs were found at the scene, a spokesman for Thailand’s ruling junta said. Police with torches have been looking under bushes and walking the grounds of the nearby Royal Thai police station in an apparent effort to search for other bombs.
A long line of ambulances has formed outside a hospital located close to the blast site, so many of the injured are being taken to medical centres further away.
UPDATE (18th August, 7:30am):
In a report by CNN, citing Thai authorities, the Bangkok blast killed at least 20 people and wounded 123 more. 12 victims died at the scene and the others died later at area hospitals, officials said.
According to The Star Online, 2 Malaysians have been confirmed to be among the people killed in the blast. The Malaysian fatalities were confirmed by a Malaysian embassy official in the Thai capital.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon told reporters:
We still don’t know for sure who did this and why. We are not sure if it is politically motivated, but they aim to harm our economy and we will hunt them down.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
UPDATE (19th August, 6:30am):
7 Malaysian victims involved in the Bangkok bomb blast are from the same family and according to The Star Online, the deadly Erawan Shrine bomb blast on Monday (17th August) may have claimed a 5th Malaysian life after search teams found part of a hand at the site of the explosion.
Lim Su See, 52, who is related to the other 4 deceased Malaysians, has been pronounced missing in the list of victims as her body has yet to be found. However, rescuers have found a hand that a family member said could likely belong to her.
“They have taken a DNA sample of the hand. The result will be out tomorrow,” said Lim’s relative Khaw Wi Kai, 33, when met at the Police General Hospital’s forensic wing on Tuesday (18th August).
The 4 Malaysians who are confirmed to have died are Lee Tze Siang and his daughter, Lee Jing Xuan, as well as Lim Saw Gek and Neoh Jai Jun. The Malaysian Embassy also confirmed that 3 Malaysians had been injured in the carnage.
More details to come.