Team are safe after blast

The Rev Andrew Thompson (centre back) and Dr Thomas Murray (front) with fellow team members before they left Dublin Airport to fly to Bangkok
The Rev Andrew Thompson (centre back) and Dr Thomas Murray (front) with fellow team members before they left Dublin Airport to fly to Bangkok

The Rev Andrew Thompson and Dr Thomas Murray, who travelled to Bangkok as part of a mission team, have had to remain indoors during the spate of bomb blasts in Bangkok.

The two men arrived in the Thai capital on Monday, along with Northern Irish and English volunteers, to work with university students in the city.

At about 7pm local time, an improvised device exploded in central Bangkok inside the Erawin Shrine - a spot which is extremely popular with tourists.

“Thanks be to God, our team are staying in the suburbs,” said the Rev Bryan Martin, who is the Rector at Donaghcloney Parish.

“They’re safe and well, which we’re very thankful for.”

While the team are staying roughly an hour away from the bomb site, they narrowly avoided a second attack which was carried out on Tuesday. Andrew and Thomas were due to travel to Thammasat University, located beside the Chao Praya River, but decided to spend the day indoors making preparations for the rest of the week.

“A hand grenade was thrown into the Chao Praya River on Tuesday afternoon,” said Mr Martin.

“The team would have been travelling up there that day to reach the university - thankfully they chose not to.”

It is not yet known who is behind this week’s attacks in Bangkok, and the Thai Prime Minister described Monday’s blast as the “worst ever attack” on Thailand.

“They don’t really know what’s happening,” said Mr Martin.

“Where the shrine was - that was where major protests against the government took place last year, while the river would be used by tourists and commuters.”

Members of Donaghcloney Parish have been travelling to Thailand for the past three years. Despite this unexpected outbreak of violence in the capital, however, the team remain undeterred from the work they set out to complete.

“We’ve been travelling to these two universities over the past few years,” added Mr Martin, “working alongside the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students and Johnny and Ann 
McClean, a missionary couple from the UK who are 
living in Thailand. Right now, we just want to pray for the people of 
Thailand and pray for the team - that they’ll continue to be kept safe.”