As many as 22 people were killed in an explosion that shook a popular Bangkok tourist site Monday evening, and police feared the death toll could climb higher. Agence France-Presse said 21 people were killed while Reuters put the death toll at 22, up from initial estimates of 18.

The death toll appeared to be on the rise as local authorities grappled with 123 injuries in addition to the deaths, AFP reported.

"The bomb aimed at killing as many people as possible as the shrine is crowded at around 6 to 7 p.m." Monday evening, police spokesperson Prawut Thavornsiri told AFP. 

RTX1OJ63 Rescue workers carry the body of a victim from the Erawan shrine, the site of a deadly blast in central Bangkok Aug. 17, 2015. Photo: Reuters

The explosion occurred near a temple in the crowded downtown area of Thailand's capital. The death toll, initially just a handful of people, rose as the hours passed. The bomb appeared to be attached to a small motorbike outside the shrine; however, initial reports were still unclear whether the bomb was detonated inside the shrine or outside the shrine. The bomb apparently was made from a pipe wrapped in cloth.

The reported deaths included at least 10 people from Thailand, one Chinese person and one Filipino. Local hospitals were overburdened by the attack and called on volunteers to donate blood following the attack, the Guardian reported.

It was also not immediately clear who was responsible for the Monday night blasts. The tactics, however, did not appear to match those used by separatist rebels in southern Thailand, Thai army chief Gen. Udomdej Sitabutr said. The government has, however, looked to define the attack as an attempt to destroy the Thai economy. The local economy relies heavily on tourism and shopping in both Bangkok and along the beaches that draw tourists throughout the year.