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Explosion In Heart Of Istanbul's Tourist Area Kills 10


A large explosion in a tourist district in Istanbul, Turkey has killed as many as 10 people. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed it on a suicide bomber with links to Syria. And Turkey's deputy prime minister said most of the dead were foreigners. We reached Erdal Karatas (ph). He is a waiter at Pasha Restaurant (ph). That's a restaurant just about 200 yards from the site of the blast in the old city of Istanbul. Thanks for joining us.

ERDAL KARATAS: Good morning, hello.

GREENE: This must have been a very frightening morning. Let me just first ask, are you and your colleagues at the restaurant all OK?

KARATAS: Yes, yes, we're OK, really. I was here in the morning. And of course, we were working. And we tried to take customers here, like, in our restaurant. And it was 20 past 10, I hear something, like, of course, bomb. And of course, I was scared first. And I see, like, some pieces come near me - you know, like, two pieces actually.

GREENE: You said pieces of something. Do you think these were, like, metal pieces of the bomb that were - of the explosion, from the explosion, coming into the restaurant?

KARATAS: Actually, it was - I was outside. And I see two pieces come near my, like, shoes actually. I see under my shoes, like - but I thought maybe not the pieces of a bomb, but I showed the guys here. And they told me maybe it's bomb. That's it.

GREENE: Who do you serve in the restaurant? Is it mostly tourists? Or is it...

KARATAS: Tourists, yeah - tourists and little resident (ph) too.

GREENE: And so this is a neighborhood where many tourists, like Westerners and others, often are visiting the city.

KARATAS: Yeah, we have, like, we have U.S. tourists too. We have Italy and France, Spanish, all, like, everywhere - Arabic. We do our best for them, really.

GREENE: I know there's a lot of - a lot of facts that we have to sort out this morning. But are you worried that tourists were being targeted in this explosion this morning?

KARATAS: First of all, of course, I tell you, before two - we're not happy about this. But I think after, like, one month or after two weeks, everybody will forget this because we've seen France too and other countries too - too much we heard about this in all country. But they forget all. I think in Turkey, also, they will forget. But in Turkey, it wasn't too much people died. We've seen France, too much people died. Of course, we're not happy about all this too. And I wish all be OK for Turkey. We want to all people to come to enjoy in Turkey - everywhere.

GREENE: I hear music now. Is - are things back to...

KARATAS: Yeah, we - because we have little customers, and we opened for them.

GREENE: So the restaurant is back open again.

KARATAS: Yeah, it's open now. We serve food and drinks. We wait for customers. I wish they would come.

GREENE: Mr. Karatas, thank you very much for talking to us. And we hope everybody's OK.

KARATAS: You're welcome. You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.