British tourists in the popular Turkish resort of Kusadasi were reeling last night after a bomb exploded in the midst of their holidays.
Yesterday's blast was on one of the small white minibuses that shuttle between the town centre of the south-west coastal resort and the long sandy beaches on its outskirts. "We were having breakfast when there was a big bang and we saw something like a tyre fly up into the air and lots of smoke," said Dean, a 24-year-old British tourist staying at the nearby Stella Hotel.
Zeki Ozisik, who runs a jewellery shop at the Hotel Liman, said: "I heard the explosion and ran out. It smelt of panic. The explosion was very loud. It was in the minibus that takes people from the hotel to the Ladies Beach, near the harbour region. I went outside and it was very crowded. The top of the bus had been torn off; it was blown 10 feet high. All the windows were smashed and the vehicle was just a skeleton."
A 41-year-old woman from the north-east of England, who did not wish to give her name, was on a public bus travelling into the centre of town and got off the bus less than two minutes before the blast went off.
She said: "We got off the bus and there were two little boys asking for money. We were distracted for a moment, then we heard a blast. There was glass flying, tables, all sorts of debris. We didn't know what it was. The noise was unbelievable. All the cars screeched to a halt and all the Turkish people started running towards the bus. There was a police station near by and police vans started going towards it. There were ambulances everywhere. We just ran the other way."
Paul Hogg, 37, a jeweller from Poulton-le-Fylde, near Blackpool, was woken up by the bomb as it detonated. "We ride those buses all the time. They are the size of transit vans and ferry people between hotels and the beach and restaurants. The locals use them to commute. You just have to stick your hand out and they will pick you up and drop you off wherever you want. They run every two minutes. Anyone could have been on them.
"We didn't go to the beach today. We stayed in the hotel and, although people carried on as normal, you could see the concern in their faces.
"I was very impressed with the way the Turkish authorities dealt with it, but it is a worry for everyone."
Turkey is a favourite tourist destination for Britons, with 1.5 million travelling there each year. Kusadasi's budget hotels and raucous nightlife make it popular with European tourists as well as Turks. It has cheap-and-cheerful hotels (meals for £5 and beers for as little as £1) and powdery sand beaches near by, plus close proximity to some of Turkey's best archaeological sites such as Ephesus. Cruise ships that tour the Aegean Sea often stop in Kusadasi.
Property companies selling homes abroad say they have recently witnessed a surge in Britons choosing to buy in Kusadasi and the surrounding region.
Some Britons will be wary of returning, but others say they will. Margaret Reverson, 45, said: "I would definitely come back to Turkey. I feel as safe as I would do in England."
* Thomas Cook said anyone worried about a friend or relative holidaying in Turkey can call Sunworld Ireland on 00 353 1881 4320.Reuse content