Athletics: National runner Dipna Lim-Prasad stuck in Istanbul airport after terror attack

Massive crowds of fellow passengers greeted national runner Dipna Lim-Prasad at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport when she disembarked from her plane.
Massive crowds of fellow passengers greeted national runner Dipna Lim-Prasad at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport when she disembarked from her plane. PHOTO: @DIPNALIM/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - 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 on Wednesday (June 29) in the aftermath of the terror attack.

They were returning to Singapore from Portugal, where they were training and competing in, 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 Ataturk 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.

We are safe.

We are safe.

A post shared by Dipna Lim Prasad (@dipnalim) on

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.

"Somehow my Portugal (mobile) data worked so I got a bunch of messages and links to the articles. The airport shut down for a few hours so we only disembarked three hours after we landed.

 
 
 
 

"I think we were all pretty calm because we felt distanced from the attacks."

When they finally got into the terminal, they were greeted by massive crowds of fellow passengers, some of whom became impatient and agitated as they were left stranded at the airport due to the lockdown.

Their connecting flight, TK54, was eventually 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.

Meanwhile, they are waiting to be put up in a hotel so that they can rest after going without sleep the entire night.

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

By the time daylight broke, Lim-Prasad said the "airport is functioning pretty well, repairs are ongoing".

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.

"The staff were really brave, and it was heartbreaking to see them having to take care of us and try to help us despite having gone through these attacks."