US, Istanbul Flights Temporarily Suspended After Terrorist Attack
(ABC) -- In the wake of a terrorist attack that left at least 28 dead and 60 injured at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, all scheduled flights between the United States and Istanbul have been temporarily suspended while officials sort out the incident in Turkey, a senior U.S. official told ABC News today.
The FAA also confirmed to ABC News it has put in place a ground stop for any U.S. flights departing for Istanbul and any flights leaving Istanbul for the U.S.
An official told Turkish state broadcaster TRT that two attackers opened fire with machine guns and detonated suicide belts outside the international terminal before passing the first security checkpoint. Later the governor of Istanbul said that there were three suicide attackers.
At the time of the attack, 10 flights were airborne inbound to U.S. destinations from Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, all were Turkish Airlines flights. U.S. officials said they were in the process of determining exactly how to handle them, but it is expected that those planes will be isolated once they land and then searched, according to the senior U.S. official. Only then will passengers and luggage be allowed near the airport terminals.
The first flight to land on U.S. soil arrived at New York's JFK airport at 5:30 p.m. without incident. Another flight is scheduled for a 10:15 p.m. arrival. Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco are all scheduled to have flights from Istanbul arriving tonight.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced added patrols with tactical weapons and equipment at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports. The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, along with local law enforcement, is coordinating security efforts with the agency.
The Ataturk airport in Istanbul, like many across the Middle East, has a layer of security at the terminal entrance, including X-rays that scan check-in and carry-on bags, and metal detectors that scan passengers. Ataturk is the 11th largest international airport, with nearly 62 million passengers traveling through it in 2015, according to Airports Council International, an industry airport group that acts as the voice of the world’s airports and the communities they serve.
Today's attack comes three months after deadly coordinated bombs were detonated at an international airport in Brussels. Brussels Airport CEO Arnaud Feist expressed his shock about the Istanbul attack on Twitter Tuesday evening.
This is the fifth major attack on Turkey’s biggest city this year -- earlier this month, a car bomb attack on a police bus has killed seven officers and four civilians in central Istanbul.
Friday, January 19 2018 4:29 PM EST2018-01-19 21:29:45 GMT
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