ISTANBUL — The horrors unfolded in front of Mert Akbalik in the arrivals hall of the airport shortly after he finished his shift.
He pointed to where he said the gunmen entered Istanbul’s international airport, where he hid, and where he saw shattered glass, pools of blood and one of the worst terrorist attacks in Turkey’s modern history.
He also pointed to the signs of resilience. By Wednesday evening, less than 24 hours after the attack, the glass and blood had been removed. Amid a heavy police presence, passengers hurried to catch flights that mostly resumed after delays and cancellations. Construction workers shouted as they repaired ceiling panels that had been blown out in the suicide attack.
“We have to come back to work today. We have to show that we will not be stopped by these monsters,” said Akbalik, an 18-year-old employee at the airport’s Sbarro pizzeria who witnessed the incident after leaving work to catch a shuttle back home.
At least 41 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in an attack that involved at least three attackers who stalked passengers and airport staff with semiautomatic weapons before blowing themselves up. The victims were mostly from Turkey but included at least 13 foreigners.
This nation has been badly shaken by this and a string of other recent attacks linked to Kurdish separatists and the Islamic State. Turkish officials suspect Tuesday’s incident to be the work of the militant group, but there has been no claim of responsibility.
Faisal Rashid blamed Islamic State militants, which also overran much of his country of origin, Iraq, two years ago. In bone-white shorts, the 15-year-old stood in the departures area on Wednesday evening with his mother, father and 6-year-old brother, Mostafa.
They were supposed to pass through Istanbul the previous evening, after flying from Sweden, where the family now lives.
They prepared to check in for a flight to the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah. They should have landed there last night, but then the bombers struck.
“Suddenly there were hundreds of people running toward us, screaming, ‘run!’ ” he said. “We didn’t know what to do. Somebody just broke open a door, and then we ran outside into the airport. We were hiding near the planes.”
As he spoke, people from dozens of countries speaking various languages chatted, pulled luggage and tried to move on with their lives.
Faisal described the chaos, and his fear.
So did Mostafa. “There was blood, guts. It was on the floor,” he said.
His mother, May, put her arms around him.
Over the past year, scores of suicide and other attacks have targeted tourists, security personnel and even peace activists. Hundreds of people have been killed.
Some expressed suspicion of the extraordinary number of Syrian refugees — nearly 3 million — who reside in Turkey. Syria’s civil war has been a major driver of unrest in Turkey. The conflict has helped the Islamic State carve out territory in Syria, and it has aggravated separatist sentiment among Turkey’s large minority of Kurdish citizens.
“I’m not blaming Syrian refugees for this attack. But there are so many of them here, and it would be easy for some of these people to be manipulated by extremists,” said Engin Karakas, a Turk in his 30s who arrived in Istanbul from Ukraine on Wednesday.
Airport authorities sealed off a large section of the departures area that was damaged by another suicide bomber. Employees prevented journalists and passengers from taking photographs of the disabled check-in kiosks, which were marred by the blast.
Hanging over the area were two Turkish flags and a massive banner displaying the visage of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s first president who is revered here as a George Washington-like figure.
By Wednesday evening, flights appeared to be arriving and departing with fewer problems, but delays continued to affect some.
Mattias Gunzer had just arrived on a flight from Tel Aviv, where he attended a medical conference. He was supposed to make a connection in Istanbul on Wednesday, but his flight to Germany was postponed to Thursday. He would not venture beyond the airport, he insisted.
“There’s no way I’m going inside Istanbul. I’m afraid, of course,” said Gunzer, 47, who lives in the German city of Düsseldorf.
Even as many people tried to go on about their day, airport employees mourned fallen colleagues. A picture of a woman named Ozgul Ide and her colleague hung from the shuttered entrance to Simit Saray, a cafe in the arrival hall where one of the assailants blew himself up. A group of people looked at the memorial photograph of the two, who were killed during the incident. One woman was crying, her hands cupped around her mouth and nose.
Only a day before, Aynur Olmez, another employee at Sbarro, recalled running into Ozgul.
Olmez, 38, struggled to hold back tears.
“We’re sad. We’re scared. I knew her. I knew a lot of them,” she said as she finished an evening shift. She was about to break her day-long fast for Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.
Olmez had the day off on Tuesday.
At the time of the attack, she said, her son, Abdulkadir, 18, was on his way to work a shift at the Caffe Nero in the arrival hall. And her brother, Regep, also works at the airport as a shuttle driver. He had just driven a group of passengers away from the airport when the assailants began firing into the crowds of people, she said.
“My family, all of us, are lucky that we were not hurt. It’s incredible that none of us were even here at the time of the attack,” Olmez said. “I can’t explain it.”
Olmez roughly translates in English as “immortal.”
As she spoke, she flipped through photographs on her cellphone of people who were wounded in the attack. One man lay in a bloodied T-shirt, his eyes open but lifeless. Another man was crumpled on his side.
“It’s horrible what happened to us,” she said.
Zeynep Karatas contributed to this report.