At least 19 people have been killed and 78 wounded by a bomb blast that hit the commercial centre of the Thai capital Bangkok.
The blast, which was said to have taken place near the Erawan Hindu Shrine, occurred about 7.10pm local time, according to the Bangkok Post.
Nearby offices have reportedly been evacuated, according to reports on social media.In an earlier report, Reuters had said that at least 27 people had died, including four foreigners.
The bomb was placed inside the Erawan Shrine area, Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said.
“It was a TNT bomb… the people who did it targeted foreigners and to damage tourism and the economy,” said Wongsuwong.
Thai police said a second bomb is being defused inside the shrine.
Al Jazeera’s Veronice Pedrosa, reporting from the scene, said that rescue workers said that a secondary device had been found inside the shrine itself and that the bomb squad were diffusing it.
Eric Seldin, of Thaicom Production Services, was 100 metres away when the explosion happened.
“I was inside the Hyatt hotel having dinner when we heard an extremely loud explosion near the Ratchaprasong intersection,” he told Al Jazeera. “The windows were shattered and everyone at the hotel was startled.
“Security tried to shut down the hotel and attempted to keep everyone inside but I was able to go out and walk just about 50 metres close to the intersection.
“I noticed seven to eight covered bodies. There was damage to the ground of the shrine.
“On the street itself there were several casualties. There is a large security presence. Police are moving people back because they are worried about the second explosion.
“The area is extremely close to the National Police Headquarters and the police hospital,” Seldin said.
Story culled from Aljazeera.com