Two Hong Kong women confirmed dead in Bangkok bomb blast (China Daily)

Workers clean up the blast scene around the Erawan shrine in the Thai capital Bangkok, Aug 18, 2015. [Photo by Zhao Yanrong/chinadaily.com.cn]

Six Chinese nationals, including four from the mainland and two from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, had been confirmed dead in a Bangkok explosion Monday night, the Chinese Embassy in Thailand said Tuesday.

Another 22 Chinese, including 17 from Chinese mainland, two from Hong Kong and three from China’s Taiwan are under treatment in hospital, the embassy said, adding more than 10 others, who sustained minor injuries, have been discharged from hospitals.

There is one Chinese who remains missing, according to the embassy.

China on Tuesday urged Thai authorities to fully investigate the blast and to severely punish the perpetrators, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement posted on its website.

The two Hong Kong people who died were women aged 19 and 24. Hong Kong Immigration department also confirmed six other Hong Kong residents injured in the incident and they have been sent to local hospitals for treatment.

Three Hong Kong immigration officers will fly to Bangkok this morning to provide help to the victims and their family members.

The Immigration Department advised residents already there to attend to personal safety and remain at safe areas.

Experts investigate near the site of a deadly blast in central Bangkok, Thailand, August 18, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

22 killed, more than 120 injured

Thai police said earlier that at least 22 people, including four Chinese nationals, were killed in the blast, said the Chinese embassy in Thailand on Tuesday.

Over 120 people, including more than 20 Chinese, were injured in the blast, according to the embassy.

The explosives were planted and aimed at taking lives, national police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang said.

The injured, including Thais, Chinese nationals and Filipinos, were taken to nearby hospitals, according to the police.

The Chinese embassy in Thailand was trying to confirm the exact number of Chinese citizens killed or injured, while the consulate general was leading a contingency team that went to hospitals to make sure injured Chinese were properly treated.

The embassy sent translators to the hospitals to help with communication.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which occurred just outside the Erawan shrine at a major intersection.

An injured person is rushed to receive medical treatment at Police Hospital after a bomb explosion near Erawan Shrine, central Bangkok, Thailand, August 17. [Photo/IC]

A China Central Television reporter quoted police in Bangkok as saying that TNT was used in the bomb, and that a bomb disposal unit had dismantled two suspected explosive devices.

“The perpetrators intended to destroy the economy and tourism because the incident occurred in the heart of the tourism district,” Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said.

The Erawan shrine, on a busy corner in the Thai capital near top hotels, shopping centres, offices and a hospital, is a major attraction, especially for visitors from East Asia, including China. Many ordinary Thais also worship there.

“I had just paid tribute to the Buddha. I was washing my hands, and suddenly I heard a huge explosion, and when I turned, four people were all lying on the ground,” Gu Xinlun, a Chinese tourist who arrived in Bangkok on Monday, told China Daily.

He said the blast killed one of his friends.

“It was like a meat market,” said Marko Cunningham, a New Zealand paramedic working with a Bangkok ambulance service, who said the blast had left a two-metre-wide (6-foot-) crater.

“There were bodies everywhere. Some were shredded. There were legs where heads were supposed to be. It was horrific,” Cunningham said, adding that people several hundred metres away had been injured.

Experts investigate at the site of a blast in central Bangkok August 17, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

Political tension

At the scene, authorities ordered onlookers back, saying they were checking for a second bomb.

“We are now looking for another two to three bombs, as we have found one suspicious object,” national police chief Prawut Thawornsiri told Reuters.

“There could be another explosion, so we have blocked off the crime scene and are asking bystanders to move back.”

Authorities stepped up security checks at some major city intersections and in tourist areas.

While initial suspicion might fall on Muslim separatists in the south, Thailand has been riven for a decade by an intense and sometimes violent struggle for power between political factions in Bangkok.

Occasional small blasts have been blamed on one side or the other. Two pipe bombs exploded outside a luxury shopping mall in the same area in February, but caused little damage.

Police said that attack was aimed at raising tension when the city was under martial law.

Reuters, Xinhua and AP contributed to this story.

Workers clean up the blast scene around the Erawan shrine in the Thai capital Bangkok, Aug 18, 2015. [Photo by Zhao Yanrong/chinadaily.com.cn]