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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 16:08 GMT
Turkey blast wreaks carnage
By Steve Bryant
BBC, Istanbul

The car bomb that exploded outside the Neve Shalom synagogue ripped through the front of the building and shattered windows for hundreds of metres around.

Man helped from scene of blast outside Neve Shalom synagogue
Many people were hurt in the street outside the synagogue
At 0930 (0630 GMT) the street was filled with shoppers, storekeepers and electricians who trade in the area.

Eyewitnesses reported a scene of carnage on Buyuk Hendek street immediately after the blast.

A pall of acrid black smoke hung over the narrow street, which was strewn with the dead and injured.

Most of the victims were Muslim Turks walking to work or out shopping.

The synagogue had been full of worshippers but they seem to have been largely protected by the front of the building.

Shattered glass

The narrow street is packed with electrical stores, all of which had their storefronts blown out by the shockwave from the explosion.

Debris outside Neve Shalom synagogue
Debris was scattered over hundreds of metres
The blast was heard kilometres away.

Nothing remained to be seen of the small police watchpost outside the synagogue.

Windows as high as six storeys up were broken, and the damage extended on to side streets hundreds of metres away.

The flying shards of glass caused many of the injuries, but masonry and metal parts of cars were also sent ripping through the air by the blast.

Witnesses at the scene also reported a heavy stench of ammonia, which made breathing hard.

The front of the synagogue was torn open and severe damage done to neighbouring buildings.

Fear and confusion

As ambulances and police arrived, they found a sheet of newspaper covering up a severed arm on the pavement some 30 metres (100 feet) from the site of the blast.

Rescue workers walked over a carpet of glass shards to help the injured, while panes continued to fall on to the road.

Dazed men wandered aimlessly, blood streaming from their faces.

Others stood around in shock as glass rained down from the flats above the street.

Police rapidly cordoned off the centre of the blast as the injured were taken to local hospitals.

Anxious relatives complained later that it was impossible to find out information about their loved ones.

One young woman, tears streaming down her face, said that after three hours she could find no information about her husband, who worked at the synagogue.

The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"The aim was certainly to kill Jews as they worshipped"

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