Monday 18 December 2017

'Missed text meant I escaped bomb blast that killed 19' - Dubliner Orla

Paramedics and security forces at the scene of blast near the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok that left at least 18 people dead yesterday
Paramedics and security forces at the scene of blast near the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok that left at least 18 people dead yesterday
UN worker Orla Fagan who lives in Bangkok

A Dubliner has revealed that she narrowly escaped an explosion that claimed the lives of at least 19 people in central Bangkok yesterday, because she hadn't seen a text message from her friend saying she was nearby to meet.

A bomb exploded near the Erawan Shrine in central Bangkok - a spot popular with tourists and Thai people alike - at around 7pm yesterday evening, injuring more than 100 people.

UN worker Orla Fagan was due to meet a friend in the area last night.

"We would have been walking past there at that time," she told the Herald.

Ms Fagan heard the explosion from her home in the Thai capital, which is some 300 metres from the blast site, she said.

"I've lived in Baghdad and Kabul so I knew it was a bomb. I could feel the windows shaking and I jumped," she said.

"You can tell when it's a bomb, you can feel it in your belly and I learned to identify that feeling over time," she explained.

Ms Fagan said that she is being kept updated via UN security and will work from home today. Schools in the region will also be closed as there are fears of another explosion.


A controlled explosion was also carried out on a second device discovered strapped to a pole on the city's famous Skywalk, Ms Fagan said.

"We could hear that, it's more of a dull rumbling noise. If that had gone off the damage that would have been caused is unthinkable," she said.

"It was so unexpected. They have targeted the tourist industry, which accounts for 20pc of Thailand's GDP. If it goes the economy will not survive. There are different reports here of how many have died, but there are certainly lots of serious injuries also, there were body parts all over the streets."

Meanwhile, Ciaran McCarthy arrived in the city on Sunday night with his brother Eoin and Eoin's wife Louise. They are staying at the five star Sivatel Hotel, just two streets away. They passed through the intersection 10 minutes before the blast.

Last night the trio were on lockdown in their hotel, but said that they felt lucky to have narrowly missed being caught up in the attack.

"It's only around the corner from where we are staying. It could have easily been us," Ciaran (34) said.

"If we had been a few minutes later definitely we could have been in it, so it's quite strange to think about that."

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, which caused the worst carnage of any single attack in recent memory in the Thai capital.

Bangkok has been relatively peaceful since a military coup ousted a civilian government in May last year, after several months of sometimes violent political protests against the previous government.

Police said the bomb was made from a pipe wrapped in cloth.


"Whoever planted this bomb is cruel and aimed to kill," said national police chief Somyot Poompummuang.

"Planting a bomb there means they want to see a lot of people dead."

It is not known if the attack is politically motivated or linked to religious tensions in the country's southern region.

The Irish embassy in Bangkok is continuing local inquiries, but last night there were no reports of Irish casualties a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

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