Turkey coup attempt: Britons describe gunfire and explosions

People gathered on a monument in Taksim Square Image 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 265 people died, 161 of them civilians.

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

The Foreign Office had "strongly" advised Britons to stay indoors, but recently said the situation "appears to be calming".

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."

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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.

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".

Image caption Saima Alvi was caught up in the attempted coup while she was at the airport in Istanbul

Saima Alvi, a teacher from Altrincham, landed at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport in transit to Qatar just after the coup attempt, and found herself stranded with her family, including her disabled daughter.

Speaking from the airport she said: "I was in a small transit lounge with about 150 other people and everyone was crying, upset and scared.

"I found a point which was next to an exit but also wasn't near the windows and I had a plan of action, an evaluation if I had to get out quickly with the children."

Image copyright Arthur Terry School
Image caption Children from Arthur Terry School are on their way to South Africa via Istanbul airport

Also stranded at Ataturk airport were 41 students and seven members of staff from the Arthur Terry School in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, who were there to get a connecting flight to South Africa.

The school said earlier that the British Consulate and Foreign Office were providing support.

It issued an update on Saturday evening saying the children would fly out to South Africa overnight.

The attempted coup 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 citizens had been killed and 1,440 have been wounded in clashes in a night he called a "black stain on Turkish democracy".

A further 104 suspected coup-plotters had also been killed, authorities said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption People have been waiting at Istanbul airport, trying to leave the country

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

The Foreign Office's latest advice says: "The situation in Turkey appears to be calming following an attempted coup overnight on 15-16 July.

"The security environment, however, remains potentially volatile.

"Following earlier disruption, flights to and from airports in Turkey are returning to normal, although some disruption remains and you should check with your airline or tour operator before travelling."

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Media captionTurkey: Boris Johnson urges calm and "avoidance of bloodshed"

ABTA, which represents travel agents and tour operators, said travellers should follow Foreign Office advice, but added that most British travellers will be visiting coastal resorts, which were not significantly affected.

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.

British Airways has cancelled all flights to and from Turkey on Saturday and flight BA675 departing from Istanbul on Sunday.

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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