Turkey coup attempt: Britons describe gunfire and explosions

People gathered on a monument in Taksim SquareImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

People have gathered in Taksim Square the day after the failed coup

Britons in Turkey have been describing how they heard gunfire and explosions during an attempted coup, in which 161 people died.

Alev Scott, a British-Turkish writer, says she heard gunfire in Istanbul’s Taksim Square and low-flying jets.

The Foreign Office has “strongly” advised Britons to stay indoors, and said travellers should check with their airline or tour operator.

A group of Birmingham schoolchildren are stranded in Istanbul’s airport.

ABTA estimates its members have 50,000 people currently on holiday in Turkey.

More than 2.5 million Britons visit Turkey every year.

Ms Scott said: “I was watching things from my terrace, watching the military vehicles on the Bosphorus Bridge and then these sonic booms started.

“It was actually quite scary so I went down into my flat just keeping away from the windows which had all blown open.”

Media captionA British tourist said he was woken by a “loud explosion” in the Turkish resort of Marmaris

British holidaymakers in Marmaris have also described hearing gunfire in the streets and an explosion. The Foreign Office said the road between Marmaris and Icmeler remains closed.

Rhonda Jones, a player for Rangers Ladies football club, posted a video on Twitter of cars and scooters filling the streets in a procession loudly beeping their horns.

She described hearing “gunfire exchanged up and down the street in Marmaris” and “a small explosion”.

Mike Baddeley, also on holiday in Marmaris, said he was woken by “a very large explosion, followed by, it seemed like one or two helicopters flying above our heads… with machine gun fire”.

Tim Trott is on holiday in Marmaris and said: “There is a military presence in the hotel, and we’ve had 20 or so soldiers in the reception of the hotel this morning with weapons.”

Daniel Worley, 22, from Kingsthorpe in Northamptonshire, said he heard a helicopter and gunshots in Marmaris, where he is on holiday.

“It’s all over now but it was terrifying,” he said.

“We just locked ourselves in the room. Earlier we were sat on the balcony and could hear protesters.”

Image copyright
Arthur Terry School

Image caption

Children from Arthur Terry School are on their way to South Africa but are currently at Istanbul airport

Among those affected are 41 students and seven members of staff from the Arthur Terry School in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, who are stranded at Istanbul airport, where they were due to get a connecting flight to South Africa.

The school said in a statement that its students are safe and being accompanied by both the staff and a member of the British Embassy.

The attempted coup, which now appears to be over, began on Friday evening when tanks took up positions on two bridges over the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, blocking traffic.

Turkish officials said the attempt to seize control of the country by a faction of the armed forces is now over and 2,839 soldiers, including high-ranking officers, have been arrested.

Turkey’s PM Binali Yildirim said 161 people had been killed and 1,440 have been wounded in clashes in a night he called a “black stain on Turkish democracy”.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

People have been waiting at Istanbul airport, trying to leave the country

Ahmet Kaz, 40, a restaurant owner in north London, said his three children were left stranded at Ataturk airport in Istanbul after trying to flee the fighting in the city.

“I’m worried because my family are there. From 10pm until now they are still in the airport – my three kids – they are safe.”

Burcu Incekara, 37, a shopkeeper on Green Lanes in Haringey, said: “My sons just went to Turkey two days ago – they said they were safe at the moment.”

But she said that F-16 planes had flown very near to their house.

“There were bomb, gun attacks from the soldiers to the police – it’s not good,” she said.

“They were scared, of course, because near where they are there is a place with soldiers and they are scared – everyone is scared.”

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Supporters of the Turkish President celebrated after the attempted coup

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson tweeted that he was “very concerned” by the events in Turkey and said the British Embassy was “monitoring the situation closely”.

The Foreign Office’s latest advice says: “The situation now appears quieter in Istanbul, and the bridges across the Bosphorus are re-opening. But there are reports of tank fire and small arms fire in Ankara. Some flights to airports in Turkey are being diverted or cancelled.

“The road between Marmaris and Icmeler remains closed, following earlier reports of gunfire between the resorts of Marmaris and Icmeler. We strongly advise you to stay indoors, avoid public places, in particular demonstrations, and remain vigilant.”

The Foreign Office also says people at airports in Turkey should “follow the advice of the authorities and contact your airline or tour operator”.

It added: “If you are due to travel to or from Turkey over the next few days, you should closely monitor our travel advice and check with your airline or tour operator before travelling.”

Media captionTurkey: Boris Johnson urges calm and “avoidance of bloodshed”

Mr Johnson tweeted that he had spoken to Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and underlined the UK’s “support for the democratic elected government and institutions”.

ABTA, which is the UK’s largest travel association, also said travellers should follow Foreign Office advice.

The Association of British Insurers said travellers should be able to transfer travel insurance to a new destination if alternative arrangements are made by those booked to travel to Turkey.

Turkish Airlines says its flight schedule will return to normal from Saturday afternoon.

British Airways has cancelled all flights to and from Turkey on Saturday and flight BA675 departing from Istanbul on Sunday. It said the situation will be kept “under review”.

Thomas Cook says on its website that its flight and holiday programme is operating as normal, but it is offering free amendments and cancellations for all customers due to fly to Turkey on Saturday and Sunday.

British nationals in Turkey can contact the Foreign Office on +44 207 008 0000.


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Turkey coup attempt: Britons describe gunfire and explosions

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