The husband of a woman killed in a mysterious explosion at an Istanbul airport on 23 December has called for justice as the British embassy in Turkey expressed concern at the incident. At least five planes parked on the tarmac of the Sabiha Gokcen airport were damaged in the blast that went off at around 2am local time. Two cleaners, identified as Zehra Yamaç and Canan Çelik Burgucu, who were working on a Pegasus Airline plane, were injured.
Yamaç, 30, sustained severe wounds to her head and later died at a local hospital. Authorities have released sparse information about the incident, saying an investigation into its causes was underway.
The victim's husband, Musa Yamaç, said he too was in the dark about what had happened and urged police to apprehend those responsible for his wife's death. "I want the culprits to be caught as soon as possible. Nobody told me anything about the cause of the explosion. I only want who caused this to be captured," he told Daily Sabah newspaper.
The blast caused damage in a radius of 150m, with images from the scene showing windows of a bus and a terminal building smashed or pierced by shrapnel.
A large number of police and firefighters were deployed to the airport, Istanbul's second largest, with security forces controlling access to the premises and searching vehicles in the immediate aftermath of the explosion.
Turkey's Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim said it was too early to know what caused the blast but played down fears of at possible terrorist attack saying security standards at the airport were very high.
"There was damage to five airplanes in total due to the impact of shrapnel. Weakness in the airport's security is out of the question. All international security standards are being implemented," Yildirim said, Reuters reported.
"On the cause of the incident, security and intelligence teams are carrying out investigations. But it's too early to reach a verdict or comment on it yet."
The blast took place in the so-called apron area of the airport near a parked aircraft. No passengers were in the area at the time. Some witnesses said they heard three separate detonations.
Security experts claimed the damage was consistent with a bomb. Matthew Finn, from the London-based aviation security firm Augmentiq, said that although it was too early to have a definitive answer, the extent of the area affected and the type of destruction caused suggested some sort of device was involved.
"What stands out most is what appears to be shrapnel damage on the airport windows, plus the damage done to planes some distance away," he told the Daily Telegraph. "All of these point to it being some kind of bomb.
"Other scenarios don't really stand up. There are things like the cooker in the galley of a plane that could malfunction and hurt someone, but the blast radius is so wide that it looks like it was some kind of device," he added.
The incident came amid heightened tensions between the government, Islamist and Kurdish militants. Both the Islamic State (Isis) group and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have claimed responsibility for attacks on Turkish soil in the past.
The British ambassador Richard Moore sent his condolences to the families of the victims, adding he was concerned at the incident. He tweeted:
The UK Foreign Office's travel advice was subsequently updated with a notice reading: "There were reports of an explosion at Sabiha Gokcen airport in Istanbul at around 2am on 23 December; the circumstances of the incident are currently under investigation; the airport remains open."