Bangkok bombing: Second explosion reported in Bangkok

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seccond-bangkok-bombThai police have reported a second explosion in Bangkok, with no injuries, a day after a deadly bombing.

The second explosion occurred at a ferry pier, but this time no one was hurt, police say.

Police Senior Sergeant Major Worapong Boonthawee says an explosive device was thrown from the Taksin Bridge on Tuesday afternoon and blew up at Sathorn Pier after falling into the Chao Phraya River below.

Security camera footage showed a sudden blast of water dousing people on a walkway at the pier, as bystanders ran for safety.

“If it did not fall in the water then it certainly would have caused injuries,” Klongsan deputy police chief Colonel  Natakit  Siriwongtawan said.

Meanwhile, Thai security forces believe CCTV footage may lead them to suspects of the first bombing that rocked the heart of the Thai capital on Monday evening.

Bodies of victims are covered with white sheet among wreckage of motorcycles and other debris as security forces and emergency workers gather at the scene of the blast in central Bangkok.

Police said they believed he arrived at the shrine in a taxi and appealed to anybody who saw him to come forward. In one photograph he is carrying a backpack and in the other he isn’t.

Broadcaster Thai PBS reported a man had left a “shoulder bag” inside a fence at the bomb site a minute before it went off.

PBS said a manhunt was underway “and all airports and border checkpoint were alerted to watch out for the suspect”.
A cell phone photo show the scene of the Bangkok bombing.

KIWI EXPATS CONCERNED

William Chase, president of the NZ Thai Club in Bangkok, said earlier on Tuesday that major areas in Bangkok were being patrolled by soldiers and police.

He was down the street at a different intersection at the time of the first bomb.

“We heard it but were about a kilometre away,” he said.

“At the moment it’s very tense. People are continuing on with their normal day but definitely there is tension in the air and caution.

“People are avoiding going out at the moment.”

The NZ Thai Club has around 500 expat New Zealanders on their Bangkok roll and there are about 2000 in Thailand according to the New Zealand embassy,

Video shortly after the blast showed a scene of shock and desperation: people running for their lives and crying amid the debris. An emergency worker in an ambulance, frantically pounding the chest of a victim.

National chief of police Somyot Poompanmoung said the perpetrators aimed to kill “because everyone knows that at 7pm the shrine is crowded with Thais and foreigners. Planting a bomb there means they want to see a lot of dead people.”

Early Tuesday morning, Somyot was among those surveying the damage as police and soldiers guarded the area, still littered with shattered glass and other debris. The normally busy intersection that was closed off to traffic and eerily empty aside from onlookers standing behind police tape to take pictures. Barricades were set up outside five-star hotels in the neighbourhood and security stopped cars to inspect trunks before letting them pass.

More than 12 hours after the blast, onlookers dashed for safety as shards of glass torpedoed to the ground from windows of a nearby building. Nobody appeared to have been injured.

National police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri said the death toll stood at 22, with 123 people wounded. Eight foreigners were among those reported killed. China reported three of its citizens dead, and Somyot said a Filipino also was among those killed.

As a single, devastating blow to this Southeast Asian metropolis, Monday’s bombing has no equal in recent history, though Thailand is no stranger to violent attacks. A more-than-decade-long insurgency by southern Muslim separatists has left more than 5000 dead far from the capital. In Bangkok, politically charged riots centred on this very intersection in 2010 killed more than 90 over two months.

Police chief Somyot said on Monday that the bomb was made with a pipe wrapped in cloth and weighed 3 kilograms.

“This does not match with incidents in southern Thailand. The type of bomb used is also not in keeping with the south,” Royal Thai Army chief and deputy defence minister General Udomdej Sitabutr said in a televised interview.

The pipe bomb detonated at the Erawan Shrine, which is dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, but is extremely popular among Thailand’s Buddhists as well as Chinese tourists. Although Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, it has enormous Hindu influence on its religious practices and language.

Throngs of tourists come there to pray at all hours, lighting incense and offering flowers purchased from rows of stalls set up on the sidewalk along the shrine. The site is a hubbub of activity, with quiet worshippers sometimes flanked by Thai dancers hired by those seeking good fortune, while groups of tourists shuffle in and out.

Bangkok has been relatively peaceful since a military coup ousted a civilian government in May last year after several months of sometimes violent political protests against the previous government. Anusit Kunakorn, secretary of the National Security Council, said Prime Minister Prayuth, the former army chief who orchestrated the May 2014 coup, was closely monitoring the situation.

At the same time, the military government has tightly controlled dissent, arresting hundreds of its opponents and banning protests. Tensions have risen in recent months, with the junta making clear that 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.

Stirring the pot has been exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup . It was his sister Yingluck Shinawatra who was ousted as prime minister last year.

Last week, Thaksin posted a message on YouTube urging his followers to reject the draft constitution because he said it was undemocratic. The draft charter is supposed to be voted on next month by a special National Reform Council. If it passes, it is supposed to go to a public referendum around January.

Another source of recent tension is the annual military promotion list, with the junta’s top two leaders — Prime Minister Prayuth and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit — widely believed to be supporting different candidates. The reshuffle, which comes into effect in September, has traditionally been a source of unrest, as different cliques in the army, usually defined by their graduating class in the military academy, seek the most important posts to consolidate their power.

Tourists reacted with concern.

“We didn’t think anything like this could happen in Bangkok,” said Holger Siegle, a German who said he and his newlywed wife had chosen Thailand because it seemed safe. “Our honeymoon and our vacation will go on, but with a very unsafe feeling.”

While bombings of this magnitude are rare in Bangkok, they are more common where Thailand’s Muslim separatist insurgency has been flaring: in the country’s three Muslim-majority provinces in the deep south.