National runner, coach stuck at Turkey airport after attack

NATIONAL runner Dipna Lim-Prasad, along with national coach for sprints, relays and hurdles Luis Cunha, were among those who were stuck in Istanbul airport yesterday in the aftermath of the terror attack.

They were returning to Singapore from Portugal, where they were training and competing, and transiting at the Turkish capital on a Turkish Airlines flight.

Less than an hour before their flight - the first leg of their journey home - landed, a string of explosions hit Ata- turk Airport, Istanbul's main international airport.

What was supposed to be a three-hour transit became a day-long stopover for the travelling pair.

Three suspected ISIS suicide bombers reportedly opened fire at the airport before blowing themselves up.

As of 8pm yesterday, 41 people were confirmed dead, and another 239 were wounded.

Thirteen of the dead were foreign nationals.

A tired Lim-Prasad, 25, told The Straits Times from Istanbul: "(I am) Shocked, sad. It happened about 30 minutes before we landed, we were just told there was an emergency."

She was able to find out what happened as her Portugal mobile data still worked.

One attacker opened fire in the departure hall with an automatic rifle. All three then blew themselves up in or around the arrivals hall a floor below, said witnesses and officials.

The airport was shut for several hours. "We only disembarked three hours after we landed," she said.

When they finally got into the terminal, they were faced with massive crowds of fellow passengers.

Some had become impatient and agitated as they were left stranded at the airport due to the lockdown.

The group's connecting flight, TK54, was cancelled, as were most other flights that night.

After about eight hours of waiting, Lim-Prasad and Cunha finally secured their seats on the same flight back to Singapore, due to depart a day later.

She expressed her sympathy for the local airport staff, who had to deal with agitated passengers on top of having just gone through a crisis.

She said: "It (my tiredness) is nothing compared to the staff's. Their friends were hurt or dead in their workplace and, after all of that, they still have to work and deal with some passengers who were rude."

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