Sathorn, Erawan attacks work of same bombers of Bangkok

Compliments of Bangkokpost 

National police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang said the bomb tossed from a bridge at Bangkok’s Sathorn pier and yesterday’s bombing of the Erawan shrine are the work of the same perpetrators, some of whom may be foreigners.

After inspecting the scene at the busy Chao Phraya River boat terminal, Pol Gen Somyot said divers were able to recover a half dozen metal fragments of the pipe bomb thrown from the Taksin road and rail bridge near the waterway and the BTS Saphan Taksin station.

The device bounced off a post and into the nearby Sathorn canal where it detonated harmlessly, sending up only a large plume of water. There were no injuries or damage.

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians found TNT was used in both devices, which had been stuffed into a metal pipe with a timed fuse.

Pol Gen Somyot said there were more than one person behind the two bombings and that both Thais and foreign nationals were involved.

“I can tell you now that there are not only foreigners involved in the incidents but some Thais must have taken part,” the police chief said. Foreigners, he said “could not have … walked their way onto the (Taksin] bridge. There must be Thai people involved whose hearts are not Thai.”

The Sathorn bomb was estimated to have a blast radius of 35-50 metres, less than half of the bomb left under a bench Monday night at the Hindu shrine at the Ratchprasong intersection.

Pol Gen Somyot admitted that police briefly arrested a foreign man at Suvarnabhumi airport who appeared similar to CCTV images of the prime suspect. Immigration officials initially stopped him due to a problem with his travel documents and released him so that he could fix it. He has not been allowed to depart Thailand for the time being.

Police would not rule out he was the same man who appeared in the Erawan CCTV footage and are investigating further.

The police chief asked the public to send tips to authorities if they see someone they suspect was the man seen wearing a yellow shirt and leaving a backpack at the Erawan blast site.

The Sathorn bombing took place at 1.20pm, but half the pier remained open with boat operations continuing as normal. Police closed Sathorn Road to traffic from the pier to the Saphan Taksin Skytrain station to investigate.

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This year el niño to be the strongest on record

Compliments of CNN

If you don’t know El Niño now, you will soon.

The waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean are heating up, scientists say, building towards a strong El Niño event that could rival the intensity of the record 1997 event that wreaked weather-related havoc across the globe, from mudslides in California to fires in Australia.

According to the latest forecast released Thursday by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, this year’s El Niño is “significant and strengthening.”

“There is a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, and around an 85% chance it will last into early spring 2016,” the NOAA said in a statement.

The weather phenomenon largely became a part of the public vernacular during the 1997 El Niño. It caused devastating flooding in the western U.S. and drought in Indonesia. It was blamed for deadly virus outbreaks in Africa and rising coffee prices around the world.

El Niño is a warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean, mainly along the Equator — see the thick red belt in the satellite photo, which indicates waters that are warmer than normal.

These warmer waters are normally confined to the western Pacific by winds that blow from east to west, pushing the warmer water toward Indonesia and Australia.

But during an El Niño, the winds slow down and can even reverse direction, allowing the warmer water to spread eastward all the way to South America.

El Niños occur every two to seven years in varying intensity, and the waters of the eastern Pacific can be up to 4 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than usual.

A strong El Niño heats up the atmosphere and changes circulation patterns around the globe, especially the jet stream over the Pacific, which becomes stronger and dumps more frequent and intense storms over the western U.S., especially California. It also means more rain for the west coast of South America.

But the atmosphere is somewhat of a zero-sum game. More rain in North and South America comes at the expense of normally rainy Southern Asia and Australia, which become abnormally dry and experience droughts.

A strong El Niño also influences cyclone seasons around the planet. The warmer the East Pacific is, the more hurricanes it gets. The Atlantic Ocean sees fewer hurricanes, however, a result of increased upper level winds that prevent hurricanes from developing, which is why officials are predicting a calm 2015 hurricane season in the U.S.

The Western Pacific, on the other hand, tends to see more and stronger typhoons, which may explain why there have already been 5 super typhoons there in 2015. Normally there’s only one by this point in the year.

The weather isn’t the only thing that’s affected. Warmer surface waters in the eastern Pacific drive away the coldwater fish that are the backbone of the fishing industry in much of Latin America. It was here that the phenomenon was first noticed by fishermen, who named it “El Niño” — meaning “little boy” or “Christ child” in Spanish — since it would often appear around Christmas.

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