After surviving explosions at Istanbul Ataturk Airport and multiple attempts to get a flight home, a Cape Town photographer was in tears at the weekend as he recalled his ordeal.
Parow Valley resident Ference Isaacs was at the airport on Tuesday June 28 when he heard a loud “boom” and saw people running to safety.
He had travelled via Istanbul to Bordeaux, France, earlier last month. Within minutes of two explosions at the airport- claimed to be the work of the Islamic State – news spread online.
Friends and family wanted to know whether Mr Isaacs was safe while he was stuck inside the airport with hundreds of other passengers without any internet connection.
“I had a couple of hours before my flight, so I was browsing and decided to have some Turkish coffee,” he said.
“Then I saw some people running at the airport. And I thought this is odd. Why would people be running at the airport?
“Where we were, no one was aware of what was happening because the airport is big.”
Mr Isaacs stopped at a Turkish Airlines office and asked what was happening.
“A woman working there said there was a bomb scare. Then when I continued walking, I saw people running a second time,” he said.
“People were falling over each other. Luggage was just all over the place. Old people were falling to the ground.
“Children were screaming. It was like something out of a movie.”
Mr Isaacs’s instinct was to run with people.
“Then we heard a loud boom and everybody just fell to the ground.
“My instinct was that there were guys inside the airport shooting.
“The police told people to run to one side of the airport.
“The airport is huge and he was telling people to run to the side that was safer. Everybody was running.”
News reports confirmed that a gun battle had taken place between Turkish police and gunmen wielding AK-47s.
There were multiple explosions in which 41 people were killed and 239 injured. Gunmen wearing explosive vests had apparently tried to pass through X-ray machines at Europe’s third busiest airport, when police stopped them.
“They started shooting and police returned fire.
Mr Isaacs told how “people were just beside themselves”.
“A sight that almost broke my heart was seeing a father consoling his children.
“He was just crying. It was really a horrible experience.
“Police were everywhere. They were telling people to go to the food court area. They were trying to make sure everybody was in one section.”
The airport was evacuated and Mr Isaacs and other passengers were taken to hotels, where they were told to wait until the airport was operational again.
At the hotel, Mr Isaacs posted a video on Facebook to tell family and friends he was alive.
On Thursday, Isaacs was sent back to the airport to catch a flight to Cape Town.
“When people knew they were going back to the airport they were crying and had be consoled.”
Mr Isaacs only managed to get a flight home on Friday morning and landed in Cape Town later that day.
“Sitting in the aeroplane, I couldn’t believe it when the pilot said we were ready to land in Cape Town.
“I saw Table Mountain and just reflected on my holiday and this experience. I realised that I could have been dead.
“My eyes were filled with tears. I was just happy.” – Weekend Argus