‘I feel lucky to be alive’ – Southwold woman narrowly avoids Turkish bomb attack and military coup

Zuhal Tobin with her husband Simon. Picture: Supplied

Zuhal Tobin with her husband Simon. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

A Turkish woman, who now lives in Southwold, says recent events in her home country have made her feel 'extremely sad'.

Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport. Picture: AP/Emrah Gurel.

Turkish rescue services gather outside Istanbul's Ataturk airport. Picture: AP/Emrah Gurel. - Credit: AP

Zuhal Tobin, 57, was in Istanbul as recently as Thursday (July 14) – narrowly avoiding the atrocities a day later – which saw more than 160 people killed in an attempted military coup.

Mrs Tobin described how she visits her family in Istanbul 'once or twice a year'.

She has been married to Simon Tobin, the former mayor of Southwold, for 24 years.

In a remarkable string of events, she also described how her initial flight into the country from Gatwick, on June 28, arrived at Istanbul's Ataturk airport just 30 minutes after the triple suicide bombing – where 41 people were killed.

Speaking about that incident, Mrs Tobin said: 'I feel very lucky to be alive but also very guilty.

'If I was there just half an hour earlier I could have been dead.

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'I had just landed in Istanbul and we waited about 15 minutes, the pilot announced that we were waiting for a parking space, so everyone got up and were waiting for the doors to be opened.

'But nothing was happening.

'Eventually everyone put their phones on and my husband called from the UK – I heard what had happened from him.

'It was a terrible thing to happen to incident people.'

Even more remarkably, Mrs Tobin's mother regularly comes to meet her daughter at the airport when she arrives – as she only lives a short distance away.

'But this time, I don't know why, but my mother told me to come by myself,' Mrs Tobin added.

'It was a great relief for me as I was kept on the plane for six hours.

'When we were eventually let through, I could see where it had happened.

'It made me feel so awful – one side of me was saying I am grateful but the other side makes you think about how many people are killed.

'You feel guilty but you are pleased you weren't caught up in it.'

Reflecting on more recent events, which saw more than 160 people killed and 1,400 people injured in the country's military coup attempt, Mrs Tobin added:

'Obviously it makes me feel extremely sad.

'I have seen a military coup in 1980 and I remember very clearly what it looks like.

'Last night I heard from my mother in Istanbul that they were safe.

'I was actually out at the time but when I came home and put on the television, it just looked a shambles.'

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