Weak concrete blamed for collapse of airport

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The Independent Online

Weakness in the concrete foundations for metal roof struts was the main cause of the collapse of part of the futuristic terminal 2E at Charles de Gaulle airport, near Paris, in May, a preliminary investigation published yesterday found.

Weakness in the concrete foundations for metal roof struts was the main cause of the collapse of part of the futuristic terminal 2E at Charles de Gaulle airport, near Paris, in May, a preliminary investigation published yesterday found.

But the report stopped short of saying whether a design fault or poor workmanship caused the collapse of part of the roof, which killed four passengers. Until this is established, no decision can be made on whether to demolish the remains of the curving departure lounge or to rebuild.

An inquiry set up by the French government found that cylindrical metal struts separating the two layers of the double-skinned roof had given way. The struts, holding up the outer metal and glass layer of the roof, had collapsed through the inner, concrete layer. But the original cause of the disaster was probably "the prior and gradual weakening of the concrete" in which the struts were embedded, the report said.

The investigators said the collapse occurred where the cylindrical and gently curving structure was weakened by a large passageway connecting the departure lounge to the main part of the €750m (£500m) building. Aeroports de Paris has promised to demolish the whole of the departure lounge - putting the terminal out of action for two years or more - if a design fault proves to be the cause of the accident.

An investigating judge is carrying out a separate investigation into manslaughter.

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