Wednesday 7 December 2016

'I heard people crying in the hallways' - Dublin mum describes her horror at Turkey coup

Published 17/07/2016 | 14:53

Conor Brennan from Castleknock pictured with his wife Tipparuit and their children Gemma [8] and Ollie [10] after they flew into Dublin Airport from Istanbul. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
Conor Brennan from Castleknock pictured with his wife Tipparuit and their children Gemma [8] and Ollie [10] after they flew into Dublin Airport from Istanbul. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath

A Dublin woman has spoken of her ordeal after being caught up in the terrifying coup attempt in Turkey on Friday night.

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Tipparut Brennan, (39), from Castleknock, north Dublin, said she was relieved to be home after arriving on the first flight today from Istanbul since the failed coup attempt that left 265 dead and close to 3,000 arrested.

Mrs Brennan, who is originally from Thailand, was returning from a visit to her homeland with her children Ollie, (10), and Gemma, (8).

They were staying at a hotel near Istanbul’s Ataturk airport to await her 7am flight on Saturday when the coup unfolded.

Murat Karavult and Gokhan Bilgi, both from Istanbul pictured after they flew into Dublin Airport from Istanbul. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
Murat Karavult and Gokhan Bilgi, both from Istanbul pictured after they flew into Dublin Airport from Istanbul. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
People kick and beat a Turkish soldier that participated in the attempted coup, on Istanbul's Bosporus Bridge, Saturday, July 16, 2016. Photo: AP Photo/Selcuk Samiloglu

She described scenes of complete chaos as thousands of panicked people swarmed the airport,  the third largest in Europe, as the coup unfolded.

More than 35 flights were diverted and 30 Turkish Airlines flights were cancelled as army tanks surrounded the airport on Friday night. In total, 196 flights were cancelled by Saturday. Although flights resumed later on Saturday, clearing the backlog of cancelled flights is expected to take until tomorrow or Tuesday, Turkish Airlines said yesterday.

Then around 1am on Saturday she heard a loud explosion.

“It wasn’t far off,” she told Independent.ie.

“The building was shaking,” she said.

“I heard people crying in the hallways. I was afraid to go out. I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.

Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stand on an abandoned tank during a demonstration outside parliament building in Ankara, Turkey, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal
Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan stand on an abandoned tank during a demonstration outside parliament building in Ankara, Turkey, July 16, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

She feared that a bomb had been detonated.

However, it later emerged that a mild earthquake struck the region as the coup was unfolding, causing buildings to shake. Two explosions were also reported around the same time at Taksim Square in Istanbul.

While she could see the images of the coup on television, she wasn’t able to make out what was going on because it was broadcast in Turkis

Later, after the military uprising was quashed, she witnessed Turkish citizens protesting en masse at the airport in support of  Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan.

But Ms Brennan said the ordeal was one she will never forget and she was just happy be home after arriving from Istanbul at Dublin airport this morning.

“I’m thrilled to be home,” she said.

A man waves a Turkish flag in front of Ataturk Airport during an attempted coup in Istanbul. Turkish Airlines have since resumed flights from the airport. REUTERS/IHLAS News Agency
A man waves a Turkish flag in front of Ataturk Airport during an attempted coup in Istanbul. Turkish Airlines have since resumed flights from the airport. REUTERS/IHLAS News Agency

But her husband Conor Brennan said he was very disappointed with the Department of Foreign Affairs' helpline while the crisis was unfolding.

Mr Brennan said the information he was given by the FDA “was useless.”

“All they could tell me was the same information that was on Sky News,” he said.

A spokesperson for the department was unable to comment on his complaint yesterday.

However, she said the department did update it's travel advice on its website as the situation unfolded on Friday night.

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