‘We walked on top of people to save our lives’: Istanbul attack survivor
AFP photoOne of the revelers at the Istanbul nightclub which came under attack during New Year celebrations described the chaos and panic as people tried to escape a gunman intent on killing as many as possible.
Thirty-nine people were killed when at least one attacker stormed an elite nightclub on the Bosphorus where partygoers were celebrating New Year.
Professional footballer Sefa Boydaş told AFP how several people fainted after they heard gunshots while people walked on top of one another to escape the elite Reina club on the European side of the city.
Boydaş said he had only been in the club with two friends for about 10 minutes before he heard gunshots and his friend collapsed in shock.
“Just as we were settling down, by the door there was a lot of dust and smoke. Gunshots rang out. When those sounds were heard, many girls fainted.”
He told AFP that people appeared to be crushed as they ran away from the attacker.
“They say 35 to 40 died but it’s probably more because when I was walking, people were walking on top of people,” said Boydaş, who plays full time for Istanbul club Beylerbeyi.
Boydaş initially tried to escape holding his friend but upon seeing her older sister faint, the footballer said his friend also passed out.
He described the screams which he said drowned out anything said by the attackers.
“But even if there were shouting, you wouldn’t hear because the crowd’s screams were 100 times louder,” a distressed Boydaş added.
In the aftermath of the attack, ambulances and police cars crowded outside the venue on the shores of the Bosporus as dazed survivors still in their party clothes crowded outside.
“We came here to have a good time today but everything was suddenly transformed into chaos and a night of horror,” said Maximilien, an Italian tourist.
Relatives and loved ones of those feared to be inside queued by the police cordon staffed by heavily armed police in the winter cold.
“My sister was inside,” says one woman. “I received a call and she said she was inside and there were gunshots.
“That was it. I have not been able to reach her since.”
For another woman standing outside the situation is more certain. “My elder brother is inside. I had news. Thankfully he is fine. I am waiting for him now,” she said.
She reassures a relative on the phone. “Don’t cry. He is coming.”