Fiery explosions ripped through Istanbul’s main airport Tuesday, killing at least 36, wounding at least 147 others and sending scores of terrified travelers running for their lives in what appeared to be a coordinated terror attack.
The blasts erupted around 10:25 p.m. local time in Ataturk Airport, according to Turkey’s justice minister and other officials.
Three suicide bombers were behind the trio of deadly explosions, according to Istanbul’s governor.
A senior Turkish official said initial indications suggested Islamic State terrorists were behind the airport attack.
Cellphone video that appeared to capture the moment one bomb detonated showed a bright flash of fire that blew upward and out while debris showered the surrounding area.
Initial reports put the death toll at 10 and wounded at 20, but that soon climbed at least 36 fatalities and 147 wounded, a senior official said.
Six of the wounded were critical. Some policemen were included in the casualties, according to witness reports.
Istanbul Gov. Vasip Sahin also told Turkish TV the tragedy was the work of three suicide bombers — contradicting some of the initial reports of one or two attackers.
Two South African tourists, Paul and Susie Roos from Cape Town, were at the airport waiting to fly home when chaos erupted.
“We came up from the arrivals to the departures, up the escalator when we heard these shots going off,” Paul Roos told the Associated Press.
“There was this guy going roaming around, he was dressed in black and he had a hand gun,” he said.
Justice minister Bekir Bozdag initially said it was the work of “a terrorist at the international terminal entrance (who) first opened fire with a Kalashnikov and then blew himself up.”
The attackers triggered the explosives at the entrance of the international terminal before going through regular security checks, the official said.