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SEPANG, Dec 23, 2015:

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) is working closely with the authorities to investigate explosions that took place at its wholly-owned Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISGIA) in Turkey today.

Two airline employees sustained injuries following the explosions.

In a press statement, MAHB said the explosions happened at the tarmac area of the airport around 2.10am Turkish time.

Following the explosions, police were onsite to check and secure the said area.

“We are working very closely with the Turkish government and our counterparts to facilitate the investigation, and we await their official report on it,” said ISGIA senior general manager (operation services) and executive director Datuk Azmi Murad.

The statement also said the Aviation Security Council had been alerted on the situation.

“The police are investigating the incident and the Turkish government has heightened security within the vicinity of the airport, which includes helicopter surveillance,” the statement read.

Some two hours later, the airport had resumed its normal flight operations around 4am Turkish time.

AFP, quoting Anatolia news agency, reported that airport cleaner Zehra Yamac, 30, died of head wounds hours after the pre-dawn blast on the tarmac of the Sabiha Gokcen airport.

The explosion took place just outside the terminal building where planes park for their passengers to embark and disembark.

Turkey’s private carrier Pegasus Airlines said in a statement the explosion took place next to one of its planes on the tarmac while the two cleaners were nearby.

“There were no passengers either on the plane or on the stairway. Sabiha Gokcen airport is continuing its normal operations,” Pegasus said.

The wounded victim, also a cleaner, was hurt in the leg. Yamac was hospitalised but died of her wounds despite the efforts of medical staff, Anatolia said.

Reuters reported that Turkey’s Transport Minister said on Wednesday that five aircraft had been damaged in the blast but it was too early to say what caused it.

“There was damage to five airplanes in total due to the impact of shrapnel. Weakness in the airport’s security is out of the question. All international security standards are being implemented,” Binali Yildirim told reporters.

Reuters reported that bomb attacks by Kurdish, leftist and Islamist militants are common in Turkey. A three-decades-old conflict between the state and the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has flared up in the country’s mainly Kurdish southeast since the collapse of a ceasefire in July.

No passengers were in the area at the time of the airport blast, which the Dogan news agency caused damage to at least three planes as far as 300 metres from each other.

A photo on Dogan’s website showed a hole in one plane window. Video footage showed investigators taking photos of a terminal building wall, dozens of metres from the nearest planes.

Police armed with rifles and protective vests imposed tight security at entrances to the airport, searching vehicles while a police helicopter circled overhead, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

According to its website, Sabiha Gokcen served around 26 million passengers in the first 11 months of the year, less than half the number at the main Ataturk airport on the European side of the city.

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