Indian passengers travelling from Instanbul’s Ataturk airport had a close shave last night, as the two flights to India departed two hours before the terror strike.
The terror attacks, which claimed 36 lives, occurred at around 10 pm. “Turkish Airlines flights to Delhi and Mumbai departed Istanbul last night as scheduled. Both leave Istanbul at around 8 pm,” said an official.
The attack on Turkey’s busy Ataturk airport, which comes within months of a terror strike at the Brussels airport, has turned the spotlight on the security apparatus at Indian facilities.
Government said it will take all steps to ensure safety of airports and Indian skies.
“I am deeply shocked and agitated at the terror attack on Istanbul Airport. We stand with Turkey and its citizens in their loss & grief,” civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju tweeted. “It’s our commitment that we will continue to ensure safety and security of Indian airports and skies.”
No Indian carrier flies to Turkey but the Turkish Airlines, the national carrier, has regular flights in and out of India.
“No report so far of any Indian among the casualties has been received. Ataturk airport operations at Istanbul have resumed but long delays are likely,” a senior government official said.
Security checks for passengers had been intensified at all Indian airports. It is only at Jammu and Srinagar airports that the passengers are frisked and their bags checked before they enter the airport terminal.
While there is no plan to extend the practice at other airports, security drill may be tightened following the Istanbul strikes.
“Additional security measures like deploying more security personnel and those in plain clothes outside airports are often implemented to deal with security threats,” an official said, while ruling out Srinagar-like checks.
“There is hardly any space outside terminal buildings and if we do start doing this the passenger queues would spill over to the road,” the official said.
In Istanbul, the three suicide bombers sprayed bullets and then blew themselves up. One of the attacker opened fire in the departures hall with an automatic rifle before all three blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below, reports said.