BANGKOK – At least seven people were killed and 19 others injured on Wednesday when workers at a scrapyard in Bangkok tried to pierce the case of a suspected World War II bomb, authorities said.
The 225-kilogram (500-pound) shell was found at a construction site by builders who then sold it to a suburban scrap metal merchant believing the bomb had been defused.
“The workers at the warehouse thought the bomb was no longer active so they used a metal cutter to cut into it causing the explosion,” said local police commander Virasak Foythong, adding the ordnance was probably left over from the war era.
“Seven are now confirmed dead and 19 injured,” the city’s Erawan emergency center said, updating the toll. It reported that five people were killed at the scene.
Confirming the number of deaths, a police explosives expert said the blast created a large crater and damaged homes within a 500-meter (1,640-feet) radius.
“It was (a) 500 pound bomb dropped from the air during World War II,” Colonel Kamthorn Ouicharoen, of the police bomb disposal unit,
“It’s like someone just dropped a bomb from the sky. It was very powerful,” he said.
Television footage showed debris and twisted metal at the destroyed workshop as thick smoke choked the sky, while local reports said dozens of nearby homes were also damaged by the blast.
The allies conducted bombing raids on the Thai capital in retaliation for the kingdom joining the Japanese war effort in Southeast Asia.