Istanbul Atatürk Airport Attack

Situation

The chaos began Tuesday night at approximately 10:15 PM at the international terminal at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST), Europe’s third busiest airport and a major hub for international flights. Three attackers a Russian, an Uzbek and a Kyrgyz arrived in a taxi and began to fire at random at a security checkpoint. The terrorists took advantage of the panic created by the gunfire and detonated their bombs.

“When the terrorists couldn’t pass the regular security system, when they couldn’t pass the scanners, police and security controls, they returned and took out their weapons out of their suitcases and opened fire at random at the security check,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.

The bomb was detonated in the arrival area before the X-ray machines. The second walked in during the chaos and detonated a bomb at the upper departure level and the third was outside during the first two explosions, the terrorist waited for people to run outside and then blew himself up, according to reports.

At least 43 people were killed; roughly 13 of them foreigners, and 239 people injured 109 of whom have since been discharged from the hospital. During the U.S Department of State briefing it was reported that they were not aware of any Americans injured or killed in the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although the Turkish government believes the Islamic State was behind it.

All flights in and out of the airport were cancelled on Tuesday night but some services have now restarted. Turkish Airlines will be allowing rebooking and rerouting will be made without any charge for passengers who have bookings on all flights departing from, arriving at, or connecting in Istanbul Ataturk/Sabiha Gökçen Airport between 28 June 2016 - 5 July 2016, provided that they submit their request until 31 July 2016.

 

Considerations

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) updated their previous Travel Warning on June 27, 2016 and warns U.S. citizens of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey and to avoid travel to southeastern Turkey. They also warn travelers that “extremists have targeted airports and transportation hubs throughout Europe – not just within Turkey – transportation systems, other vulnerable targets, if you will.”

In regards to Turkey, the DOS recommends the following for your safety:

Avoid travel to southeastern Turkey, particularly near the Syrian border.
Stay away from large crowds, including at popular tourist destinations.
Exercise heightened vigilance and caution when visiting public access areas, especially those heavily frequented by tourists.
Stay away from political gatherings and rallies.
Follow the instructions of local authorities in an emergency.
Stay at hotels with identifiable security measures in place.
Monitor local media.

 

International travelers should also remember to take reasonable precautions to ensure your personal safety and security and expect to have longer wait times through airport security.

Check the status of your flight before heading the airport. Most airlines want you to check in at least an hour (two hours for international flights) before your flight is scheduled to depart.

Allow plenty of extra time to arrive at the airport, there may be changing security procedures. Build in more time if you are traveling with young children.

Check with your airline to see if there is a curbside check-ins or pre-check available to save time.

Pack light and challenge yourself to travel with only a carry on, to avoid checking luggage. Choose a carry on bag that is comfortable and easy to maneuver around.

We recommend having a plan for communication, in case of an emergency or in the event of an attack. When the worst happens people immediately turn to their cellphones and it is common that cellular networks become overloaded and at times shutdown during emergencies so preparing an alternate mode of communication is crucial.

Satellite phones are increasingly indispensable during emergencies.
Try to use Wi-Fi to connect, try using a voice over IP or videoconference app, such as Skype, messaging app, or social media.
Take the time to designate a rally point with your travel group can meet if you become separated and cannot communicate with one other.
Leave a copy of your travel itinerary with hotel and flight information with someone back home and alert them of any changes to your plans.

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