Turkey: blast in Istanbul leaves at least six dead

Six people were killed and 53 others were wounded on Sunday in an explosion that rocked a busy pedestrian street in central Istanbul, sending people running from the fiery blast, according to the Turkish president.

Ambulances rushed to the scene on the packed Istiklal Avenue, which police quickly cordoned off. The area, in the city’s Beyoglu district, had been crowded as usual with shoppers, tourists and families, TRT and other media reported.

State-owned Anadolu agency said the cause of the blast was not yet known.

There was a loss of life and injuries,” Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya wrote on Twitter, adding that the explosion occurred around 4.20 p.m. local time (13:20 GMT). A Reuters reporter saw a helicopter overhead and several ambulances in nearby Taksim Square.

The nearby Kasimpasa police station told Reuters all crews were at the scene but gave no further details. Local media said inspectors were on the scene. The Turkish Red Crescent said blood was being transferred to nearby hospitals.

Turkey’s RTUK regulator imposed a broadcast ban on coverage of the blast around an hour after it occurred.

update: death toll increased to 8