Last updated: 01:05 PM ET, Mon August 17 2015

Bangkok Hit By Bomb Blast, Second Bomb Defused

Destination & Tourism | James Ruggia | August 17, 2015

Bangkok Hit By Bomb Blast, Second Bomb Defused

PHOTO: The Erawan Shrine in Bangkok, site of the bomb blast. (via Wiki Images)

A powerful bomb went off in central Bangkok at about 7 p.m. in Bangkok, which is 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The bomb, which was carried on a motorcycle, injured many and in early reporting, has claimed at least a dozen lives.

In the early going police are still keeping people away from the site for fear that other bombs may have been set to claim more lives from the crowds that tend to gather after such incidents. Police have already located a second bomb, which was defused and removed.

The bomb went off outside of the Erawan Shrine, a Hindu temple located on a busy intersection known for attracting political rallies and protests. The shrine is located in the busiest shopping area in the city not far from the race track, the sky train, Gaysorn shopping mall, Jim Thompson's House and other attractions. The timing of the blast was apparently calculated to take advantage of rush hour traffic in the city.

In New York, the offices of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) are waiting to get an official response to the event before they will make a statement of their own. Though Hindu, the Erawan Shrine is a popular destination for Buddhists who go to a particular Buddha statue to pray for ailing relatives or to receive favorable outcomes regarding circumstances in their lives.     

“According to our ground team, this seems to be political in nature as the location of the explosion is not far where the political demonstrations have been in the past,” said Ashish Sanghrajka of Big Five Tours. Land operator, Destination Asia is asking its clients in Bangkok to stay in their hotel rooms until the situation settles back into normalcy.

Another tour operation, Isramworld's Asian Vistas, said there is plenty of inquiries but no rush to cancel trips.

We have received several calls this morning from agents inquiring if we had any additional information regarding the bombing in Bangkok, but no cancellations as of this moment," said Asian Vistas managing director Nancy Stern. "The next few weeks are quiet as far as Thailand travel, but we have many arrivals scheduled in the next few weeks. So far, it seems to be a wait and see situation."

For Thailand, the blast comes just as the country was moving back to normalcy after the demonstrations and the subsequent seizure of the country’s political apparatus by the military. Through May, arrivals to Thailand had grown about 19 percent. The TAT had set a target of 28 million visitors for this year and about $42 billion in revenue. In the Thai press, the event has been described as an attack on the Thai economy.

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