Carnage on coast as explosion rips through café
Key quote: "Nothing in Turkey will be as it was before." Spokesperson for the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK)
AT LEAST three people were killed and dozens injured when an explosion ripped through one of Turkey's most popular tourist destinations yesterday - the fifth blast in the country in 24 hours.
In an apparently concerted campaign to ruin the country's tourist industry, an explosion ripped through a caf in Antalya, the country's biggest holiday destination on the Mediterranean and the gateway to the "Turkish Riviera".
It came less than a day after three explosions in the popular resort of Marmaris left 21 people injured, including ten British tourists. A fifth explosion, also carried out on Sunday night, injured six people in Istanbul.
The Foreign Office restated its advice that indigenous terrorist groups are active and "further attacks, including in tourist areas, could well occur".
A Kurdish rebel group, called the Kurdistan Liberation Hawks (TAK), claimed responsibility for the earlier attacks, promising: "Nothing in Turkey will be as it was before."
Almost two million British tourists visit Turkey each year, but holiday companies said there was no sign yet that Britons were deserting the country.
Yesterday's blast ripped the facade off at least one building and several shops in the centre of Antalya and triggered a huge fire that incinerated the bodies of two people who were apparently killed in the explosion. A third person died in hospital.
Medics rushed to treat three people lying on the pavement off the main street. One young man carried a woman in his arms. Blood could be seen dripping from her feet.
"I saw two wounded tourists and a burned body of a dead man who was a pastry vendor," said Riza Ozel, a journalist on holiday.
The street was covered with broken glass and blood.
One report put the overall injury toll at 71, including a Jordanian and four Israeli tourists.
Police said they were looking for two suspects.
Antalya's governor's office said the three dead were Turks. Russia's vice-consul in Antalya, Sergey Koritsky, said the injured included a German, a Jordanian, two Iranians, four Israelis and a Russian.
"There was a fire and a lot of cars were damaged, a lot of motorbikes were damaged," he said.
In Marmaris yesterday thousands of British tourists - many of whom had arrived just hours earlier on the weekly "change-over" flights - were attempting to get on with their holiday despite Sunday's bomb blasts in the heart of the tourist district.
The town was hit by three bomb blasts. One blew apart a minibus in the centre of the popular holiday resort, injuring ten Britons and 11 Turks. Two other explosions which went off at the same time in rubbish bins on the main boulevard in the town caused no injuries.
Six injured Britons were taken to Ahu Hetman Hospital in Marmaris, while four others, including a 73-year-old woman and a 13-year-old girl, were admitted to the private Caria hospital.
The injuries included burns and shrapnel wounds to the legs, but none was life-threatening. The hospitals said four of the Britons underwent surgery.
A man and a woman aged 38 and 44, from Coventry, who suffered minor injuries, were later released from the Caria Hospital while the 13-year-old girl was transferred to the Ahu Hetman Hospital to be close to relatives.
Julie Midgley, an Ahu Hetman Hospital spokeswoman, said the Britons admitted ranged in ages from a seven-year-old boy to a 65-year-old woman.
They included the Beckford family from Birmingham - cousins Louis and Alex and grandmother Suzanna Beckford. Mrs Beckford told BBC News 24: "Why have they done this to us? We have done nothing."
A spokeswoman for the tour operator Thomas Cook, which has hundreds of customers staying in the region, said five of its guests were among the injured.
A rapid deployment team to provide counselling and advice was dispatched to Marmaris by the Foreign Office to work in tandem with consular staff already at the resort.
An uneasy calm returned to the town yesterday, with many choosing to head to the beach rather than stay in the town.
Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to Turkey, told Sky News: "The spirit as far as I can tell so far is still remarkably positive and people seem determined to carry on with having their holidays."
Debra Lewis, 44, who lives in Marmaris with her partner Michael Grant, told The Scotsman: "We heard the blasts here in our apartment. After the first one we thought it was a really bad car crash, but after the second blast we realised it was something much worse.
"Although it was incredibly frightening last night, today everything seems very calm and from the terrace of my apartment I can see that the beach is very busy indeed.
"People just seem to be getting on with things. Monday is the day the holiday companies do their change-overs so a lot of people probably arrived yesterday and are just getting on with their holiday now.
"We have got family arriving today and the bombs haven't put them off, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it was all pretty scary here at the moment."
Nejat Easer, a journalist with the Turkish Daily News, said Turks had become used to on-going bomb blasts, but said the specific targeting of tourist resorts was a worrying development. He added: "I called a friend of mine in Marmaris today and he told me 'the season is over for me now'. These attacks were a hugely tragic incident, but I believe they may also prove a blow to the Turkish economy if the tourists stop coming."
British holiday industry representatives, speaking before the Antalya explosion, said that holidaymakers had not been deterred by the blasts.
The Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) said its members had about 14,000 customers in the Marmaris resort area.
Keith Betton, of the Association of British Travel Agents, said almost all the tourists booked to leave the UK yesterday for Marmaris and neighbouring area had gone in spite of the blasts.
'Golden age' of tourism rocked by bomb attack
THE Turkish resorts of Antalya and Marmaris are among the most popular in the country, attracting millions of tourists from Europe.
With average temperatures in August of around 27C and cheap flights from UK airports, Antalya is the gateway to the country's Mediterranean beaches and resorts.
Such is the popularity of Antalya that during the height of the holiday season, the population swells from 603,190 to almost two million.
Recently the resort had been described as experiencing a "golden age", having been turned into a tourist and cultural hub for the area.
But the city has been targeted by terrorists in the past.
Last August, two explosions in the city injured seven people. A month later a bomb on a bus travelling between Antalya and Adana killed two people and injured ten.
Marmaris is also a major holiday resort for Turkey, but unlike Antalya, is reliant almost entirely on tourism as its main source of income.
Turkey is extremely popular with British tourists and about 1.8 million visited the country in 2005, according to the British Embassy.
As of yesterday, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office updated its traveller information, which had warned of likely terrorist attacks in the country, to take into account the bombings, but gave no explicit advice not to travel to Turkey. A Foreign Office spokesman said the decision to go there remained at the traveller's discretion.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
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Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
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