No motive or suspects emerge yet in Bangkok explosion


BANGKOK (AP) — A bomb exploded at a popular open-air shrine located at a key Bangkok intersection Monday evening, killing at least 20 people and injuring 140 others.

The improvised bomb blew up around 7 p.m. Monday at the Erawan Shrine, an open-air Hindu temple frequented by tourists and local residents, near a busy intersection in the heart of Bangkok. The area is surrounded by shopping malls and hotels.

In addition to the human casualties, the blast shattered nearby shop and office windows and burned motorbikes but there was no visible structural damage to nearby buildings.

Investigations continue at the Erawan Shrine the morning after the explosion. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Police chief Somyot Poompanmoung says the bomb was made with a pipe wrapped in cloth and weighed 3 kilograms (just over 6 pounds). He said it had a 100-meter (330-feet) blast radius.

The elevated Skytrain, which runs right by the site, was operating and the intersection that had been blocked off was re-opened to traffic shortly after noon Tuesday — 17 hours after the blast.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, nor has a motive emerged.

Health care workers make their way through the crowded Police General Hospital after the wounded were brought in from the site of the explosion. (AP Photo/Penny Yi Wang)

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said authorities are trying to find suspects after viewing security camera footage.

At 12:30 the central Bangkok intersection where the bomb went off was reopened to traffic, some 17 hours after the devastating explosion.

Investigators had spent all night and morning combing through the debris at Rachaprasong intersection, littered with shattered glass and blood stains. Police had closed roads within a few hundred meters (yards) of the intersection, a key and usually congested hub of the capital.

Pedestrians had been able to get closer to the scene, and many took pictures Tuesday morning from behind police tape.

Hong Kong has raised its travel alert for Bangkok to “red,” advising its travelers to avoid non-essential trips to Thailand.

Police stand near the Erawan Shrine at Rajprasong intersection the morning after the explosion in Bangkok.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)

The Hong Kong government has said two of its residents died in the attack.

Japanese media are reporting that a 31-year-old Japanese man is among the seriously injured. Kota Ando, an employee of East Japan Railway Company, was on his way home from work when the blast happened.

Ando had moved to Bangkok in July. He had been sent by his employer to work in the office of Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. for up to one year.

Bangkok has a large Japanese expat community, as many Japanese companies have offices and factories in Thailand.

A man prays near the Erawan Shrine the morning after the explosion in Bangkok.(AP Photo/Mark Baker)

A notice on the website of the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok says three Chinese tourists were among the dead from the explosion and more than 20 others had been injured. The Hong Kong government said two of its residents died, and it is not known whether China included those fatalities in its total.

“The Chinese Embassy especially wishes to remind Chinese citizens in Thailand or who are planning to come to Thailand to strengthen awareness of their surroundings, attend to their travel safety and make rational travel plans,” the embassy said.

Chinese tourists, many on cheap package tours, make up the single biggest group of overseas visitors to Thailand, with about 4.6 million arriving last year.

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