Suicide Bomb Attack, Gunfire at Istanbul Ataturk Airport
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
On Tuesday, at least three explosions rocked Istanbul Ataturk Airport and gunfire was heard from a car park at the airport. Turkish officials are reporting 36 deaths and 147 people injured as a result of the attack.
According to Reuters, taxis at the airport were transporting wounded people from facility to local hospitals.
This is the fourth attack in Istanbul this year. Earlier this month, a car bomb attack killed 11 in central Istanbul.
The attack comes one day after the U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel warning, advising of terrorist activity targeting foreign and U.S. tourists, specifically centered around "aviation services." In March, the U.S. ordered all family members of U.S. government officials posted at the U.S. consulate in Adana and family of U.S. government officials based in Izmir province to leave the country.
ANALYSIS: Turkey One of World's Safest Airports - Tim Wood, TravelPulse Editor-in-Chief
After completing a European cruise aboard the Carnival Vista on May 24, my son and I flew Turkish Airlines out of Athens and connected to a U.S.-bound flight through Istanbul.
What I found was one of the most impressively designed and most secure airports I have ever traveled through. When you enter Ataturk, you must immediately go through a security check before you enter the terminal to check in for your flight. There is another security check once you check in and then, once in the terminal itself, there was three separate passport checks at the gate itself and once you entered the gate, you could not leave until your flight departed. No wandering through the airport or even going to get a soda at a terminal store.
Istanbul is an end-point destination for U.S. and international flights and the airport has exponentially become a gateway to Asia and the Middle East over the last decade. What that means is the airport is subject to U.S. Department of Homeland Security standards for airport security.
This kind of connection has been marketed heavily as Turkish Airlines has made a heavy push to grab U.S. travelers, with increased ad buys and a promotional tie-in with the 2016 blockbuster movie "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice."
Seasoned world travelers know that Turkish Air routinely ranks among the world's top airlines for customer service and bang for the buck. Even with that knowledge, I did thorough research with friends and aviation insiders before I decided to book a flight home from Athens with Turkish Airlines.
The Carnival Vista trip I was on initially canceled a port call in Izmir before deciding to visit Kusadasi instead. As I wrote upon my return, Kusadasi was one of the best ports of call I have visited in extensive cruising. At the time, I applauded Carnival for their courage in not bending to the fear and providing the best trip possible as a result.
Celebrity Cruises also ports in Kusadasi for shore excursions to Epheseus.
Even with all the attacks around Turkey, Ataturk International has served as a beacon for safety and something that travel companies could point to in encouraging travel to and through Turkey. Turkish tourism has taken a huge hit already and this tragic event will have an exponential negative impact on any tourism efforts.
Several Twitter users shared their first-hand visual accounts of the incidents:
Saldiri ani 2 pic.twitter.com/T5fAKKjv0Y— Oguzcan Aksoy (@Oguz146) June 28, 2016
The airport is the third largest in Europe and 11th largest in the world. The airport services more than 40 million passengers each year, though recent events have decreased traffic signifcantly.
Cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises features ports of call in Turkey.
UPDATE 4:02 p.m. ET: CNN is confirming that the two explosions were caused by suicide bombers, while Turkish officials are confirming 10 deaths and as many as 20 injuries so far.
UPDATE 4:13 p.m. ET: Russian news source RT is reporting via Twitter that all flights to Istanbul are on hold, while FlightAware currently lists delays on average of 30 minutes.
UPDATE, 5:20 p.m.: Celebrity Cruises officials issued a statement related to the Istanbul attack.
"Celebrity Cruises is aware of the bombing at Istanbul Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, and our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the attack. We are closely monitoring the situation; at this time, we have not made any modifications to any upcoming sailings that visit Turkey," said Celebrity director of global communications Cynthia Martinez. "Celebrity Cruises' next call to turkey is Celebrity Equinox on July 16, 2016. We will continue to closely monitor the changing situation in Turkey and will contact guests or their travel agents should we make any modifications to upcoming itineraries. Our decision making process will always be driven by our concern for the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew members."
UPDATE, 5:21 p.m.: Turkish state television is reporting that three explosions and three separate bombers have now been confirmed, with this being deemed as a coordinated suicide bomber attack.
UPDATE, 10:14 p.m.: Turkish officials have updated the death toll to 36 in the bombing, with a further 147 injuries.
TravelPulse editor-in-chief Tim Wood contributed to this report.
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