Four people were killed and dozens injured in a powerful, unexplained explosion on a busy shopping street in Istanbul’s Istiklal on Sunday, officials said.
Police cordoned off the area and sirens sounded as helicopters flew over the city center on Sunday afternoon as crowds gathered.
“I was 50-55 meters (yards) away when there was an explosion. I saw three or four people on the ground,” 57-year-old witness Cemal Denizci told AFP.
“People panicked. There was a lot of noise. There was black smoke. The noise was very loud, almost deafening,” he said.
Parents held their children in their arms as they fled the area.
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According to preliminary information, four people were killed and 38 were injured, Istanbul Governor Ali Yelikaya said on Twitter.
Authorities did not say what caused the explosion.
According to an AFP video reporter at the scene, police had established a large security cordon to prevent access to the damaged area in case a secondary explosion occurred.
A large deployment of security forces also blocked all entrances, while a large deployment of rescue workers and police could be seen.
The explosion happened shortly after 4:00 pm (1300GMT) on the famous Istiklal shopping street, popular with locals and tourists.
According to pictures posted on social media at the time of the explosion, with flames, there was immediate panic and people were running around.
A large black crater can also be seen in the images, along with several bodies on the ground nearby.
Istiklal Street has been attacked in past 2015-2016 raids against Istanbul.
The Islamic State group claimed that the attacks killed nearly 500 people and injured more than 2,000.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)