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500 workers arrested following protest at 'world's largest airport'

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Around 500 workers were arrested after protests broke out at the site of Istanbul’s new airport, touted to be the “world’s largest” airport. 

Some 160 workers have now reportedly been released after construction workers downed tools following a shuttle bus accident which injured 17 workers this weekend.

And despite unions in Turkey saying more protests are likely, airport bosses insist that the project will open as planned next month.

An official at airport operator IGA played down the protests, saying work continued and the airport would open as planned on October 29.

“Our workers are working to schedule, there is no disruption at all,” IGA corporate communications director Gokhan Sengul said. “There was a little bit of protests on Friday triggered by provocateurs who came in on Friday like union representatives.”

“We are due to open on October 29 with no disruption,” he said.

Sengul said the company had already started laying on extra buses to prevent delays to and from work.

Protests broke out over the weekend, following complaints about conditions, including pay, food and living quarters, as well as safety standards. Earlier this year it was revealed that 27 workers had died at the airport since the start of work there in 2015.

The airport will have an initial capacity of 90 million passengers a year and there are plans in place to then take the capacity up to 200 million passengers a year.

When the first phase is completed, it will have the world’s largest terminal under one roof, with a gross floor area of nearly 1.1 million square metres.

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