SA family flees Nice, finds chaos in Turkey

2016-07-16 19:35

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Johannesburg – A South African family, who left the French Riviera city of Nice hoping to find safety in Turkey, unwittingly found themselves in fresh chaos within hours.

Antoinette Smith said she was woken up on Friday evening to pray for her relatives.

“We received a WhatsApp message at 22:00 and my sister said we should pray, so I got everyone up and I also called the church prayer group,” said Smith.

Smith said her sister Lorenza Douwenga, and her husband Sjoerd and two sons, Willrich, 10, and Leander, 7, were on holiday in France when a horrific accident in Nice claimed at least 84 people’s lives on Thursday.

A truck had reportedly ploughed into the crowd of fireworks spectators during Bastille Day celebrations, with President Francois Hollande describing it as a terrorist attack.

The family which is originally from Vereeniging in Gauteng left Nice on Friday morning and went to Turkey.

On Friday night, Turkey's armed forces attempted to seize power in a coup, declaring martial law and a curfew throughout the country.

“When they landed in Turkey, they were stuck in traffic for 3 hours. They were unaware of what was happening there and the apartment that they lived in was close to the bridge that was occupied.

“She said she saw helicopters flying around and she heard shots being fired at the bridge, but this morning she said things have calmed down and they were coming back home,” Smith said.

The family was apparently on a flight back to South Africa, said Smith.

By Saturday morning, the Turkish government had regained control of the country.

French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim as saying that 161 people were killed, with 2 839 soldiers now detained on suspicion of involvement in the coup.

The toll 161 did not include the assailants, he emphasised. Turkey's acting army chief Umit Dundar had earlier said 104 putschists had been killed.

In addition, 1 440 people had been wounded.

Read more on:    turkey  |  france
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