French airport’s terminal roof collapses

At least five killed

? The vaulted roof of the new, showcase terminal at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport — touted as a jewel of design, safety and comfort — collapsed early Sunday, killing at least five people and forcing authorities to revisit problems that preceded the fanfare opening of Terminal 2E less than a year ago.

There were some cracking sounds and some dust, and then tons of concrete, steel and glass came crashing down on a waiting area inside the gleaming terminal. The 98-foot section of roof fell just before 7 a.m. as passengers were starting to arrive.

Officials said there was no sign a terror attack caused the collapse. Of those confirmed dead, one was Chinese and the other four also were apparently foreigners, said Michel Clerel, chief doctor of Aeroports de Paris, which runs the airport.

Rescue workers sent dogs to sniff for victims buried under the pile of twisted steel, boulders of concrete and shattered glass. Officials said there might also be a sixth person killed, and that the victims were probably passengers.

The chief doctor also said three people were injured — all of them police called to the scene when trouble appeared.

“Witnesses heard a cracking and noticed cracks in the ceiling and saw dust falling,” said Pierre Graff, president of Aeroports de Paris. “They, of course, ran away. Police arrived and began evacuating people.”

Within about two to three minutes, the roof collapsed, said Rene Brun, director of Charles de Gaulle.

The futuristic, cylindrical terminal sits on pylons, and when the roof fell it pulled down outer walls and crashed through a boarding ramp.

“The consequences are obviously grave for us since we have to manage the movement of planes with one less terminal, grave in terms of image since this was our showcase jewel,” said Pierre Graff, president of Aeroports de Paris, which runs Paris’ airports.

Firefighters inspect debris of the 2E passenger terminal after a section of the roof collapsed at Charles de Gaulle airport in Roissy, north of Paris. At least five people died in Sunday's accident.