Kiwi paramedic says he spotted second bomb at Bangkok blast site
A New Zealand paramedic was lucky to walk away with his life after spotting an undetonated bomb at the scene of a deadly Bangkok bombing.
Marko Cunningham, originally of Upper Hutt, was one of the first at the scene on his ambulance motorcycle.
After tending victims at the bloody massacre, Cunningham, who works at a Bangkok ambulance service, went back to his motorcycle when he noticed a bag lying behind a trellis fence.
He called the army, who he said discovered it was another bomb.
"I was so lucky. It's a big tactic of terrorists to let off a bomb and have emergency services come to the scene before letting off another one," he said.
"I'm just so lucky it didn't [go off]. Maybe someone higher up was working on our side."
Cunningham, who has worked in Thailand for 15 years, described a horror scene at the Erawan Shrine.
"Everything was shredded, from concrete to bodies, flesh ripped off the bone, absolutely horrific.
"Those that survived were behind other people, we had to lift dead bodies off bodies to get those who were behind."
Cunningham and about 10 others worked through the bodies, administering first aid to those who still had pulses.
He said while he had "seen a lot of things" he couldn't get the image of a young couple out of his mind.
"The only thing I try not to think about is one couple about 25-years-old who were holding hands, and the guy was alive and his girlfriend was dead.
"I can't even imagine sitting next to someone, holding their hand and your alive and they're dead. It's really wrong, everything about it is wrong."
Cunningham said it was the worst blast he had attended.
"This seems so vindictive and hateful, to want to kill and hurt as many people as possible. It wasn't just making a point, they really wanted to kill and maim."
The people behind the Bangkok bomb blast that killed at least 21 were targeting tourists, Thai officials say.
"The perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism because the incident occurred in the heart of the tourist district," Thai Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told Reuters.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.
The huge bomb ripped through a shrine in the Thai capital, killing 21 people and injuring at least 117 others, according to Thai authorities.
Several of those killed were foreigners.
Earlier Thai media had reported 27 people had been killed.
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Most of the injured were tourists from China and Taiwan.
Bodies were torn apart by the blast.
"I carried one out and then I carried the other half out," rescue worker Winai Petploy said.
National Police Chief Somyot Poompanmuang told reporters the attack was unprecedented in Thailand.
"It was a pipe bomb," Somyot said. "It was placed inside the Erawan Shrine."
CCTV video showed pedestrians running from a flash of bright orange light near the shrine, which was located near shopping malls and five-star hotels in Bangkok's Chitlom district.
Witnesses said people at a shrine were hit by the full force of the blast, which was heard up to a kilometre away.
Children fell to the ground in terror.
"There was a huge force coming from a motorcycle. No-one dared go into the intersection," he said.
MORE UNEXPLODED BOMBS
The bombs were in small travel bags.
Police yelled "get, get out" to bystanders as bomb squad personnel worked to defuse them.
The shrine adjacent Ratchaprasong intersection, where political demonstrations have taken place in the past, was a major tourist attraction.
The area had been cordoned off by police.
Ambulances were at the scene.
Injured victims were taken to seven hospitals.
At least one of the dead is believed to have been a guest of a hotel near the blast.
MARTIAL LAW POSSIBLE
Thailand had been ruled by a military government since the army toppled the democratically elected government last year.
The bomb would inflame political tensions in the country and likely damage Thailand's tourist industry that had recovered from months of political instability last year.
The military government was likely to react with a security clampdown, possibly martial law.
A bomb that exploded in an underground car park of a shopping mall on the Thai tourist island of Samui on April 10 had been linked to a long-running and bloody insurgency in the country's Malay-dominated southern provinces.
Thai forces were fighting a low-level Muslim insurgency in the predominantly Buddhist country's south, although the insurgents had rarely in the past ventured out of the provinces.
But security experts said the Samui bomb appeared to be an attempt to sabotage an area of economic significance, which is known to be one of the militants' strategies.
The country had also been
- Sydney Morning Herald, Reuters