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20 August 2015, Bangkok hotels increase security after bombing August 24, 2015
On Monday, 17 August at 6:55 pm, an IED exploded at Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, at the corner of Phloen Chit and Ratchadamri Roads. It is a bustling area with modern shopping centers, hotels, coffee shops, eateries, and major businesses.
Current reporting says the bomb, a pipe bomb, weighed 3kg (6.6 pounds). It consisted of TNT and was packed with ball bearings for use as shrapnel. The device’s blast radius ranged out to 50 meters. It killed 21 and wounded as many as 130.
The device was built and placed to achieve maximum casualties, and it did. This terrorist attack was the worst in Bangkok’s history, and one of the worst in Thai history.
The next day, Tuesday, 18 August, another bomb exploded, this one at the Sathorn pier on the Chao Phraya River under the Taksin BTS Skytrain station. It is not clear if the bomb was thrown from the bridge above or if it was planted in the water earlier, but it exploded in the water next to the pier, injuring no one.
The Erawan Shrine blast happened adjacent to several hotels such as the the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, the New Imperial Hotel, the InterContinental Bangkok, and the Holiday Inn Bangkok. All these hotels are within approximately 500 feet of the seat of the blast.
The Hyatt suffered minor physical damage from the blast, so reports the Asia News Network, and The Nation – a Bangkok-based English daily newspaper. On the other hand, CNN’s pictures of the blast scene at the Hyatt, which overlooks the shrine, showed a multitude of floor to ceiling windows blasted out and/or fractured to the point of failure. These included the windows at the posh Tables Grill bar and restaurant. Damage here, including cleanup, plus temporary and permanent repairs, is estimated to run at least into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is miraculous that no one at the hotel was injured or killed.
As a result of the bombs, scores of hotels across the metro-Bangkok area reported implementing the following security measures:
- Assembly of crisis management teams comprised of hotel staff and corporate headquarters personnel
- Commencing crisis communication/PR plans
- Hotel rooms set aside for staff in case of an additional crisis
- Increasing perimeter security
- Checking all bags and luggage at hotel entrances
- Increasing the number of security guards (by 20% at some locations)
- Cooperating with state security forces regarding proactive security measures on/next to hotel property
- Posting security guards both inside and outside hotels
- Providing hotel guests with information regarding the bombing, increased security measures, and go/no-go areas of Bangkok
- Personal communications with each guest regarding the bombing and security measures (at some hotels)
- Providing guests a 24-hour main point of contact regarding the crisis
- Monitoring the national and metro security situation regularly
- Helping guests transfer to alternate hotels both in and outside of Thailand if they prefer to leave
While the bombing culprit has yet to be caught, and the reason behind the bombing has yet to be revealed, one thing is for sure: locals, tourists, and a tourist site, (also an active Thai cultural site,) were the immediate targets of this attack. Accordingly, hotels going on alert and increasing security is not only entirely appropriate, but fully necessary. The fact that the Hyatt was damaged by this bombing is unnerving and will cause considerable consternation for its patrons, staff, and owners.
This case clearly demonstrates that a pattern analysis of hotel attacks, both direct and indirect, would further help hotels, 1) bolster security, 2) increase the effectiveness of crisis management plans, and 3) improve crisis communications with hotel patrons.
Such intelligence would also help hotels improve communication and coordination with state authorities to upgrade security at and around hotels.
Finally, until the Bangkok bombing culprits are identified, authorities will not be able to formulate an adequate offensive, so they will have to rely on defensive measures to maintain continual security at tourist spots and critical metro areas. Hotels will likewise have to continue increased vigilance until this unknown threat is mitigated.
Sources and further reading:
“Hotels in Bangkok tighten security in wake of bombings,” The Nation, 20 August 2015.
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