Gunshots, screams and explosions pierced the air Tuesday as three terrorists armed with bombs and guns killed at least 36 people at Istanbul Ataturk Airport in Turkey.
Witnesses described deadly carnage and crowds in a panic as the attackers struck one of the world’s busiest airports.
At least 36 people were killed, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said. An additional 147 people were wounded, Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Sue Savage was in the airport to see a friend off when she heard gunshots and then an explosion. More gunshots rang out, followed by another boom, she told “Erin Burnett OutFront.”
She ducked into a men’s prayer room and then into a men’s toilet, where she hid in a stall with a young woman.
They came out about 30 minutes later, and heard more screams and gunshots. They ducked into a room where luggage is inspected.
She and about 30 people were herded into a women’s prayer room until authorities led them out and down an escalator into the main terminal hall.
“There was a lot of blood,” she said. The floor was marked with bloody boot marks as the group was led to the other side of the room.
“There was so much glass on the floor they were scuffing it aside so we didn’t slip,” she said.
Video from inside the terminal shows people fleeing and the bright orange flash of fire from one of the explosions. Victims stagger and some fall from the blood-covered, slick floor.
Another video shows a man walking with a gun, which he drops when he’s apparently shot by a security officer. The man slumps to the ground and the officer briefly stands over him before running. About 10 seconds later, there is an explosion.
Traveler Laurence Cameron described what he saw after he stepped off a plane.
“It was just a massive crowd of screaming people. Some were falling over themselves. A poor chap in a wheelchair was just left, and everyone just rushed to the back of the building, and then people ran the other way and no one really seemed to know what was going on,” he told CNN. “Where you normally hail a taxi, that is where the attack happened. The ground is just kind of shredded. There are bloodstains on the floor as well.”
Two bombs in international terminal, official says
Of the three bombers in the airport attack, two were at the international terminal, and the third terrorist was in the nearby parking lot, a Turkish official told CNN. All three detonated suicide vests.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a unified international fight against terrorism.
“Make no mistake: For terrorist organizations, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome,” he said. “Unless all governments and the entire mankind join forces in the fight against terrorism, much worse things than what we fear to imagine today will come true.”
The attacks happened on a warm summer night at the airport, east of Istanbul, which is the 11th busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic.
Fact File on Istanbul Airport
— 11th busiest airport in the world (2015)
— Europe’s third busiest airport (2015)
— ~62 million passengers passed last year
— There are two main passenger terminals
— Terminal 1: older, smaller, domestic
— Terminal 2: newer, bigger, international
— Vehicle checkpoint at compound entrance
— X-ray checkpoint at terminal entrance
— The airport is roughly 15 miles from the city
Source: Airports Council International
The airport was closed overnight for several hours, and flights into the airport had been diverted to the capital of Ankara and other cities.
The airport has since reopened, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it has lifted a ground stop for flights between the United States and the airport.