Airport roof collapse probes begin
PARIS, France -- Separate criminal
and technical investigations are set to begin in France following
the deadly collapse of a section of roof at Paris' Charles de Gaulle
At least five people were killed and
three others injured when a massive section of a vaulted ceiling
came crashing down Sunday.
Officials said Sunday a thorough
technical investigation will examine the structure to determine how
the collapse came about.
A separate inquiry will look at
whether criminal charges should be laid over the deaths which
Slabs of concrete and metal came
crashing down from the ceiling onto a seated waiting area at about 7
a.m. Sunday (0500 GMT/1 a.m. ET).
Part of the raised terminal structure
then collapsed onto airport service vehicles underneath.
The collapse left a hole 50 meters
(yards) by 30 meters in the long, tunnel-like building.
"It's like a scene after an
earthquake," one firefighter said.
Officials said there was nothing to
indicate a terrorist attack.
Hundreds of rescue workers rushed to
the scene, and temporary hospitals were set up on the tarmac and
inside the terminal.
Interior Minister Dominique de
Villepin, inspecting the site, said there were five confirmed dead
and "perhaps six." Officials earlier said six people were killed.
Hubert de Mesnil, director general of
Paris airports, said all the dead were likely passengers, The
Associated Press reported.
De Mesnil said there was "absolutely
nothing" in the past to indicate a structural problem.
"It's the structure that gave way,
the structure itself," he told reporters.
Police said they did not expect the
casualty count to rise, after sniffer dogs indicated no one was
trapped in the rubble.
"Luckily there was not too much
traffic at the time of the incident," Michel Sapin, prefect of the
local St. Denis community, told reporters at the airport.
Sapin said planes were arriving from
the United States and Johannesburg and one was leaving for Prague at
One of the injured was Chinese and
another was from Ivory Coast, he said.
"It looks pretty bad out there," said
Amy Haight, 30, arriving from Houston with her husband, Nelson, for
a friend's wedding.
She said she saw the collapsed
building and dozens of rescue vehicles as her plane landed.
"It's so sad, it's so scary. My God,
we're so lucky," AP quoted her as saying.
A loud noise precipitated a crack in
the terminal ceiling, and officials had been evacuating the area
when the roof caved in.
"Some people heard cracks before the
accident and there was concrete dust coming from the ceiling," said
Paris airport authority chairman Pierre Graff.
"This was a very prestigious hall and
it's a very hard day for us today."
One airport director had called
Terminal 2E, with its arched roof and sleek design, the "pride of
The terminal was inaugurated June 25,
nearly a month behind schedule because of construction problems.
Authorities evacuated the terminal,
which is used by national carrier Air France and several other
"We will adapt our flights depending
on how long the terminal is closed. Today it is not too problematic
as flight arrivals and departures are being pushed onto other
terminals," Air France spokesman Jean-Claude Couturier said.
A nearby terminal, 2F, was still
working, Fire Department Capt. Laurent Vibert said.
CNN Correspondent Jim Bittermann
contributed to this report