Bomb blast at Bangkok's Erawan Shrine caught on camera by tourist

Bomb blast at Bangkok's Erawan Shrine caught on camera by tourist
PHOTO: Photos: Reuters, Facebook video screengrab

A video has emerged online of a Chinese tourist's first-hand experience of the bomb that exploded at one of Bangkok's most popular shrines on Monday.

Posted on Shanghaiist's Facebook page, the video initially shows a regular scene of pedestrians walking on the sky bridge. Then, at the 25th second, there is a sudden loud explosion that rocks the place and balls of fire can be seen.

Screams are heard in the background and scenes of panic can be seen from the footage.

The male tourist shooting the video can be heard speaking in Mandarin, asking: "What's the situation?"

The bomb was detonated at about 7pm (8pm, Singapore time) in the middle of the city's rush hour, sending a fireball into the sky as commuters and tourists fled in panic.

The bomb was reportedly planted inside the Erawan shrine, which is situated just at the corner of the Ratchaprasong intersection and in front of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok hotel - an area that many tourists would be familiar with.

The Erawan is an enormously popular shrine to the Hindu god Brahma but is visited by thousands of Buddhist devotees every day. It is a major attraction for tourists from East Asia, especially China. Built in 1956, it is one of the Thai capital's top tourist attractions.

National police chief Mr Somyot Poompanmuang told reporters the attack was unprecedented in Thailand.

"It was a pipe bomb," Mr Somyot said. "It was placed inside the Erawan shrine."

Authorities have said the blast targeted foreigners, with Chinese, Hong Kong and Filipino citizens among the dead, while Singapore and Taiwan reported that some of their citizens were injured.

At least 21 people were killed so far, according to AFP.

Thailand's Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan condemned the bombing and said: "It was a TNT bomb... the people who did it targeted foreigners and to damage tourism and the economy."

Witnesses believed there were two blasts, with the first bomb detonated on a motorcycle parked on the street, while a second was near the Erawan Shrine, reported English-language Thai news website The Nation.

"It was like a meat market," said Mr Marko Cunningham, a New Zealand paramedic working with a Bangkok ambulance service, who said the blast had left a two-meter-wide (6-foot-) crater.

"There were bodies everywhere. Some were shredded. There were legs where heads were supposed to be. It was horrific," Mr Cunningham said, adding that people several hundred meters away had been injured.

At the scene lay charred wrecks of motorcycles with rubble from the shrine's wall, and pools of blood on the street.

The usually busy Ratchaprasong area remained cordoned off early Tuesday as police tightened security, with hundreds of schools closed and checkpoints thrown up across the city, according to AFP.

The city's elevated railway, which passes over the scene, was operating normally, reported Reuters.

maryanns@sph.com.sg

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