Mon, May 24, 2004 - Page 6 News List

At least six die as roof collapses at Paris airport


Six people were killed when part of a roof collapsed at a new terminal at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle international airport near Paris yesterday, triggering a search for trapped survivors, airport officials said.

Slabs of concrete and metal crashed to the floor of terminal 2E, which is less than a year old, at about 7:00am Paris time, spreading rubble over 30m at one of Europe's busiest airports. Most victims were believed to be passengers.

Ambulances and fire brigade vehicles rushed to and from the terminal as the injured were ferried to hospital and rescue workers searched for survivors feared trapped under the rubble.

Officials said they did not know what caused the collapse at a terminal which was opened only last year.

"Some people heard cracks before the accident and there was concrete dust coming from the ceiling. This was a very prestigious hall and it's a very hard day for us today," an airport spokesman told reporters outside the terminal.

He confirmed six deaths and said several others were hurt. Fears were also growing for anyone trapped under the rubble.

"Time is a factor. We have to get to the injured as quickly as possible," a fire brigade spokesman at the scene said.

Captain Laurent Vibert, a firefighter, said several tonnes of concrete and metal had fallen to the ground and a "red alert" had been declared.

Police kept reporters out of the terminal as the emergency vehicles sped back and forth. A nearby terminal, 2F, was still working.

Airport officials said the dead and injured included people who had been arriving and departing. One of the injured was Chinese and another was from Ivory Coast, said an official from the St Denis local authorities.

Terminal 2E was inaugurated less than a year ago and cost about US$900 million to build, airport officials said. It is used by national carrier Air France and several other international airlines.

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