Bangkok bomb
Bodies of victims are covered with white sheet among wreckages of motorcyclesReuters

A total of nine foreigners - three Chinese nationals, two from Hong Kong, two Malaysians, one Singaporean and one Filipino - in addition to five Thais have so far been been confirmed to have died in a bomb blast in Bangkok's popular Erawan Shrine. The remaining victims have yet to be identified, news agencies reported. It is believed that at least 22 people have been killed so far with more than 120 wounded.

Malaysia's Foreign Affairs Ministry has identified the two Malaysians killed as Lim Saw Gek and her son Neoh Jai Jun. Their ages are not known, Malay Mail reported. According to the ministry, their bodies are currently at the Police General Hospital in Bangkok awaiting post mortem.

The Malaysian Foreign Ministry also said that two other Malaysians were injured in the incident: "Mr Tan Rui Hun is currently admitted to the Hua Chiew Hospital to receive further treatment while Miss Tan Kim Siok was discharged earlier after receiving treatment."

Of the 123 wounded, Thais made up the largest number with 42 being treated followed by 28 Chinese nationals. Other nationals injured include citizens from from Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Oman, the Philippines and Singapore, according to police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri.

Hunt on for suspect seen on CCTV

Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said the authorities are hunting for a suspect seen on closed circuit television footage near the scene of the bombing. "Today there is a suspect who appeared on CCTV but it's not clear... we are looking for this guy," he said, adding that the suspect is believed to be from an "anti-government group based in Thailand's north east."

Prayuth said that a "war room" will be set up to co-ordinate the government's response to the bombing, according to the Nation TV channel. Thailand's north east is the heartland of the country's anti-coup Red Shirt movement. Prayuth described the bombing as "the worst ever attack" on the country.

So far, the Royal Thai Army chief and Deputy Defence Minister General Udomdej Sitabutr has said that the attack did not match the tactics used by separatist rebels in the mostly Muslim-majority southern provinces that border Malaysia. The rebels who are seeking greater autonomy have remained mostly localised, with no confirmed attack outside the southern region so far. Government spokesman Werachon Sukhondhapatipak told reporters earlier that no group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

National Police Chief Somyot Pumpanmuang told reporters: "Police are not ruling out anything including (Thai) politics and the conflict of ethnic Uighurs who, before this, Thailand sent back to China." Thailand forcibly returned 109 Uighurs to China last month, Reuters reported.

A wide crater marked the site of the bomb, just inside the gates to the shrine, where streams of people pay respects from early morning until late at night, CNN reports. The shrine houses a golden statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. CNN noted that the shrine is so highly revered that in 2006, Thanakorn Pakdeepol, a mentally ill man was beaten to death by two bystanders after they saw him vandalising the statue.

World reacts to bomb blast

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office released a statement expressing his shock over the bombing: "He expresses his condolences to the bereaved families and to the people and government of Thailand. He hopes that those responsible will be brought to justice." The US government has warned its citizens to avoid the area and voiced sympathy for the victims.