A powerful bomb blast tore through Bangkok's downtown shopping and business district during evening rush hour yesterday, killing at least 16 people and scattering glass and human body parts across the area.
It was the worst single incident in memory to hit Bangkok, which has seen bomb attacks in the past - often linked with political unrest - but nothing of this magnitude. The choice of area was clearly aimed at inflicting maximum casualties.
The blast, from a planted blomb which went off just metres from the popular Erawan Shrine at about 7pm, left a crater in its wake.
More than 80 people were injured, according to police.
Four foreigners were among the dead, including a Chinese and a Filipino, police said. Details on the extent of deaths and injuries were still coming in at press time.
Some of the injured were Singaporeans.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a Facebook post last night, said his thoughts "are with those affected by the explosion".
He added that Singapore Embassy staff have met Singaporeans injured in the blast and are rendering consular assistance.
Closed-circuit television footage from the scene showed a huge flash and a fireball. Some people were thrown to the ground while others fled, screaming. The blast caused a crater in the ground. Burned motorcycles lay around it.
A body severed in half lay covered with a piece of white cloth amid shattered glass 30m from the site. A dozen bodies covered with white sheets were taken into the shrine and laid there. The windows of buildings around the area were shattered.
Police spokesman Prawuth Thavornsiri told reporters: "The police hospital is full, so we have no confirmed number (of injured) yet as we are sending injured people to other hospitals. Around 40 vehicles are damaged.''
Two hospitals near the blast were urgently asking for blood donors.
The big thoroughfares around the Ratchaprasong intersection were filled with police and ambulances, sirens shrieking.
Ratchaprasong junction is politically significant, a site which had been occupied by protesters from both sides of Thailand's political spectrum to unseat the government of the day.
In 2010, a bloody military crackdown on protesters took place in the area. Early last year, a grenade attack at a nearby protest site killed three people. In February, two pipe bombs exploded on the pathway linking Siam Paragon shopping mall and the nearby skytrain station, injuring two people slightly.
Thailand has been under military rule since May last year, with security generally tight.
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