Herd of colleagues
So off I went, to the Turkish Airlines crisis centre near Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport. Twittering some names from the passenger list that I heard on the radio while crossing the Bosporus Bridge in a taxi, and calling the news agency to tell them I had heard some Dutch names mentioned on the list that they didn’t yet have. Of course I was curious about what I would find at the crisis centre, which is also a family support centre. Worried families getting together, maybe some of them wanting to talk to the press, some support personnel having information about how family members were informed and supported, that’s the sort of thing I expected. Things turned out to be somewhat different. Turkey has quite a few private TV stations and even more newspapers, and they were all there, together with guys and girls like me: foreign press. One father of a passenger had come but had already left again; another family member gave an ultra short press statement about a loved one luckily turning out to be fine. Then we waited a bit for a press conference, and in the meantime the ANP news agency called me many times to tell me the latest news from Amsterdam. They informed me that at a press conference at Schiphol, it was announced that nine people had died and 50 were injured. I told a Turkish colleague next to me, who was not so interested, as he was sipping tea and waiting for the Turkish Airlines press conference to start in a few minutes. At that press conference they announced the same thing I just heard from Amsterdam, and that they were planning a flight for family members of deceased and wounded people to Amsterdam. ANP in Amsterdam of course already knew that. I wrote a short update about the crisis centre for ANP, and then got some tea myself. All of a sudden, I saw my herd of colleagues with cameras in hand running (they go through life running) to a door. I walked over there too, maybe something newsworthy was happening. It turned out Turkish Airlines had decided to provide the media with some sandwiches and fruit juice – I was just in time to grab the last cheese sandwich. I called ANP to tell them that there was nothing more to be learned, and went home. Where I quickly switched on the computer and TV to get a bit more detailed information about what had actually happened.
May the victims rest in peace.
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