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Freak windstorm blasts Turkey's largest city

By Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert, CNN
updated 9:29 PM EDT, Wed April 18, 2012
Well-dressed passengers escape a yacht that caught fire Wednesday in the Bosporus during a storm in Istanbul, Turkey.
Well-dressed passengers escape a yacht that caught fire Wednesday in the Bosporus during a storm in Istanbul, Turkey.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The storm wreaks havoc on a James Bond film set
  • Roofs are ripped off and trees are felled
  • The lodos is a strong southwesterly wind

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) -- Howling winds ripped through Turkey's largest city Wednesday afternoon, tearing flags from their poles, destroying the set of a blockbuster Hollywood film, and injuring at least 31 people, Turkish authorities said.

Three of the injured were in critical condition from the freak storm caused by a strong southwesterly wind known in Turkey as lodos.

The winds -- measured at 100 kph or 62 miles per hour -- ripped the roofs from some 350 buildings, the Istanbul municipality reported, and downed more than 100 trees.

Fishing boats rushed to the rescue of desperate passengers aboard a yacht that caught fire in the Bosporus, the strait that divides the densely populated city.

Freak windstorm wreaks havoc in Turkey

As the wind quickly whipped up flames emerging from the back of the boat into a huge blaze, nervous passengers dressed in business suits clustered around the bow of the vessel.

The Turkish television agency DHA filmed the passengers getting onto fishing boats as the fire engulfed the rest of the yacht. Turkish media said the passengers escaped the dramatic blaze unharmed.

In Istanbul's posh Nisantasi neighborhood, the gusts ripped down an advertising billboard and sent construction scaffolding crashing down onto the pavement and parked cars.

The storm also wreaked havoc on the set of the aptly named James Bond film "Skyfall." Turkish media have been reporting daily on the film's production, which is occupying Eminonu, one of Istanbul's most congested and historic wharf districts.

CNN sister network CNN Turk showed video of film and set equipment in Eminonu's main square scattered and damaged by the storm.

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