Bangkok: Two powerful bombs exploded outside a Hindu temple yesterday in Bangkok, Thailand’s capital city, killing at least 27 people. Among the dead are four foreigners whose nationalities aren’t known.
Several motorcycles parked on the road were destroyed in the blasts. Seen here are two motorcycles and one fallen pole; according to the police, the bombs were strapped to a utility pole and a motorbike. Pic/AFP
The twin blasts, which the government believes were aimed at damaging the economy and tourism, occured at 7 pm (5:30 IST) outside Erawan Shrine in the downtown Chidlom district, the police said.
The temple, which is dedicated to Lord Brahma, is located on a main road through Bangkok’s commercial hub and is surrounded by three major shopping malls.
The fencing surrounding the Erawan shrine lay bent, following the impact of the blasts. The shrine is dedicated to Phra Phrom, who is the Thai representation of the Hindu God Brahma. Pic/PTI
Thai TV said at least 27 people were killed and scores injured during the evening rush hour. According to media reports, there was a huge amount of chaos, with body parts scattered everywhere.
According to the Police, the first bomb to detonate was an improvised explosive device fastened to a utility pole in front of the temple at the Rajprasong intersection that was immediately followed by a motorbike bomb, causing two taxis standing nearby to explode.
An overview of the site where the twin bombs exploded. Pic/PTI
Some sources have also said that a bomb was hidden under a roadside bench in front of the temple.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts yet. The Rajprasong intersection has been the centre of political demonstrations in Thailand in recent years.
The force of the blast bent the iron fence surrounding the shrine on the outside. Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwong said, “It was a TNT bomb... the people who did it targeted foreigners and to damage tourism and the economy.”
Police said the bomb was made of 5 kg of TNT explosives.
Police, emergency vans and bomb detonation squads rushed to the area where several motorcycles lay mangled. Bomb attacks in Bangkok are extremely rare.
40 metres The radius of the explosion
5 KG The Erawan Shrine
The Erawan Shrine is situated in central Bangkok and is a Hindu Shrine dedicated to Phra Phrom, who is the Thai representation of the Hindu God Brahma. The statue as well as the shrine are extremely popular with tourists and often feature dance performances by local dance groups. The shrine was built in 1956 at the behest of an astrologer in a bid to ward off ‘bad karma’ believed to be caused by laying the foundations of the government owned Erawan Hotel (now the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel) on the wrong date. This superstition had seeped in after the construction of the hotel was delayed by a series of mishaps. In 2006, a Thai national who was believed to be mentally ill vandalized the shrine. He mangled the prized idol with a large hammer and was later beaten up by locals who were present nearby. Restoration of the Brahma idol was done two months after the incident.
In February 2012, a series of explosions hit Bangkok, injuring five people. Thai authorities said that the bombings were a botched attempt by Iranian nationals to assassinate Israeli diplomats. Several Iranians were arrested and charged for the attacks. The first blast occurred at a house rented by the suspects in the Sukhumvit 71 building. Perpetrators of the blast who had rented the house, fled after the explosion. However, one of the suspects named Moradi was left behind, massively injured and bleeding. When he tried to call for a taxi, and the taxi driver did not stop, he threw a grenade at him. The grenade damaged the vehicle and injured the driver. Police officers responding to the blasts tried stopping Moradi, who tried to escape by throwing another grenade at them. The grenade bounced off a tree and back at him, exploding and severing his legs.
No Indian casualties
Dispelling any doubts regarding Indian nationals injured or dead in the blasts, Indian Ambassador to Thailand Harsh Vardhan Shringla said, “We are in close touch with the authorities concerned. So far there have been no reports of any Indians being injured.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences, “I strongly condemn the blast in Bangkok. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased. I pray for a speedy recovery of the injured.”