A SUSPECTED World War Two bomb killed eight people and injured 20 others when it exploded in a scrap metal warehouse as workers tried to cut it open with a blow torch.
One of those killed was a four-year-old girl, authorities revealed last night.
The head of the city’s police bomb squad, Kamthorn Auicharoen, said construction workers had found the bomb buried at a nearby building site and sold it to the scrapyard in the northern area of Bangkok.
Authorities said the builders who sold the bomb to a city scrap metal merchant believed the device had been defused. He said workers at the shop were using a gas-powered thermal cutter to take the bomb apart when it exploded.
Authorities initially reported the explosion had resulted in seven deaths, but search crews later found the young girl’s body in the rubble.
Colonel Virasak Phoithong of the city’s police said the massive blast ripped apart the scrap shop in Bangkok’s Lad Plakao neighbourhood and damaged nearby houses. He said: “It’s likely this is a bomb dropped from a plane during World War Two. We believe the bomb weighed about 227kg.
“As the people who had it probably did not know what to do, they used a blow torch to try to cut open the bomb.”
He said the explosion created a three-metre deep crater.
Local media broadcast camera footage showed that only the shell of the scrap metal warehouse now remained. All that could be seen was a mesh of twisted metal which had held up the building. Firefighters took several hours to control the fire, and remained at the scene to ensure there were no further explosions.
Construction workers on another project found a similar bomb in a different area of Bangkok at the weekend, but it was handed over to police explosive experts. “The workers at the warehouse thought the bomb was no longer active,” added Col Phoithong.
He said five of the eight people who suffered fatal injuries were killed inside or near the warehouse.
The others died from their injuries later. Police have refused to confirm if any of those killed worked at the warehouse.
Several of the injured people remain in hospital. Some are described as being “seriously injured”.
Confirming the number of deaths, a police explosives expert said the blast created a large crater and damaged homes within a 1,600-ft radius.
Allied bombing raids on Bangkok began even before Thailand had declared war, as Japan was using the country as a staging area for its invasions of both the Malay peninsula and Burma.
The first raid came in January 1942, when Royal Air Force aircraft flying from Rangoon, attacked military targets in the city.
The American Volunteer Group was also involved in the first raid.