Dig in with Dani: True Fear; being caught in the middle of a terrorist attack
Danielle Rasouli is a junior journalism major and writes "Dig in with Dani" for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Danielle at email@example.com.
July 18, 2012. I will never forget this day, considering it was the day of the scariest moment I have ever been through.
It wasn’t anything like Friday the 13th. On that day, fear was real. It wasn’t the cause of any ghost, demon or witch. Instead, it was one of those moments that you look back on and wonder how you ever survived.
I was 15 years old, traveling alone, being classified as an “unaccompanied minor.” My two-month European vacation was coming to an end, and my uncle had just dropped me off at the airport for my flight back to London. He had his phone numbers written down on a sheet of paper so I could call him when I safely landed in London. Little did I know, I was going to be seeing my uncle later that night, instead of my aunt in London.
To provide a little background information, my uncle is a businessman. He constantly changes his living situation, but was living in Bulgaria at the time. We visited his private home in the mountains in Sofia and ended the Bulgarian vacation at his beach house in Burgas. My flight was scheduled on July 18, 2012 from Burgas International Airport, the same day and place of the 2012 Burgas bus bombings.
After saying bye to my uncle, I grabbed my luggage and approached the entrance of the airport. I saw dozens of people with luggage just sitting on the concrete area in front of the airport’s doors. I ignore them, pull on the door and see that each one is locked.
I looked to the outdoor TV screen displaying all the flights for the day. My flight was still scheduled to be on time. I only had an hour and a half to go through security and luggage check, so I started to get worried about missing my flight.
“Excuse me, do you speak English?” I asked of the other passengers seated outside. All I got was confused stares and shrugs. I sat down on my suitcase without a single answer as to why the airport was closed.
Half an hour goes by, and an announcement comes on in Bulgarian. I look back to the screen and see my flight got delayed. Another half an hour goes by and another announcement comes on the overhead speakers. Widened eyes and gasps filled the crowd. I picked up my belongings and walked around in an attempt to find English-speaking people. Finally, I found an elderly British couple who were able to tell me what the hell was going on.
“Apparently, there’s been a terrorist attack here not too long ago. We’re trying to find a way to get back to our hotel, it’s not safe here,” they said.
Police officers then start to kick everyone out of the concrete area. I sat down on the curb of one of the parking lots to the airport and waited there. I honestly had nothing else to do but wait. My iPhone was the only thing keeping me sane … for the 20 minutes that it lasted. I had nothing besides the mosquitos biting me in the humid weather.
Time goes by and I see news stations and reporters moving into the area. That was when I realized just how serious this was. Obviously, any terrorist bombing is serious, but it started to feel more real when over ten news vans sped into the parking lot.
A few hours go by and I start to get hungry. I open up my suitcase to find that granola bar I packed. This was my dinner for the night. I left my suitcase open and rested my head on the pile of clothes. Four hours after waiting on this curb, I decide to attempt to fall asleep.
Several more hours go by, and it is pitch black dark at this point. It was past midnight, which brings to a total of nine hours of being trapped outside of the airport so far. In that meantime, I was able to call my uncle and explain the situation to him. He was not able to get into the airport to pick me up, so his advice was to wait until I was given directions, which was what I was doing the entire time.
Police officers started to rush the people onto buses. I had no idea what was going on of course, not speaking a country’s language really puts you behind in these situations. I ended up finding out the buses were taking people to hotels for the night. I chose to stay back because I had no way of paying for it or getting back to the airport in the morning.
Around 4 a.m., the lockdown finally ended and I luckily found my uncle in his car driving into the entrance. I immediately zipped up my suitcase and got in. After twelve hours of absolute confusion and being by myself without anyone to talk to, I was incredibly relieved to be in his supervision. My mom saw the Burgas bus bombings on CNN and knew about the situation the entire time I was there, and I had to calm her down on the phone as soon as I reunited with my uncle.
All in all, it was an incredibly scary situation, especially since I was by myself not knowing what to do for 12 hours. Being in the same area as terrorists did not sit well with me either. But I learned to be more independent and brave from it.