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Durham man narrowly avoided Istanbul airport attacks

Posted June 29
Updated June 30

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— A Durham man flew out of Istanbul a short time before Tuesday’s attack at Ataturk Airport, leaving his family wondering for several hours whether or not he escaped safely.

Salman Azher snapped several photos at the airport in Istanbul about an hour before three suicide attackers killed 42 and wounded hundreds more. He had posted a photo on social media of the food in the lounge, which was so good he joked about extending his stay.

“This was the last thing they saw and that is the thing that really got everybody worried,” Azher said.

Azher boarded his flight shortly before the attacks began and, for a while, family and friends were not certain he was safely in the air. Meanwhile, in the air, nobody was aware of the attack on the airport until the plane touched down in Boston.

“None of the passengers knew,” Azher said. “As soon as we landed, one of the passengers behind me discovered there was a problem and alerted everybody else.”

Azher said everybody on the plane took a look at the badly damaged building they recently passed through.

“They were just shocked. They were relieved and shocked at the same time. It was just overwhelming for everybody,” he said.

Azhar said coming back home has now taken on a new meaning.

“A few hours later, it would have been a different experience for me,” he said. “I was just very relieved to be home this time around.”

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