Collapse at Dubai airport kills eight

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Eight workers were killed and many injured yesterday when a huge steel mesh wall at Dubai airport collapsed, burying labourers under the rubble.

The new wall was being built as part of a multibillion-dollar extension to the busy airport when the reinforcement cage gave way. Witnesses said up to 40 people were rushed to nearby hospitals but the exact number could not be confirmed.

"We don't know how many," said an official of al-Naboodah Contracting, the main firm at the site. The accident is a blow to the self-proclaimed "world's fastest growing" airport and a country enjoying a boom in its tourist industry. Dubai, one of seven emirates that make up the oil-rich UAE, is a rapidly expanding regional trade hub and is viewed as one of the Gulf's less intimidating destinations.

Dubai airport - a main transit route for Asia and the West - hopes the £2.26bn expansion will boost passenger numbers from 22 to 60 million by 2018. Yesterday's accident at a new terminal will throw a spanner in the works. "The wall fell down, and we all ran to help, but there wasn't anything we could do," said Daljinder Singh, a worker.

Most of the victims were thought to be immigrants from India and Pakistan, working for a UAE-British consortium, Al-Naboodah Laing, which won the construction contract last year.

Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, president of the site's joint owners, the Department of Civil Aviation, said it was "a tragic situation" and announced a DCA investigation. The site's other owner, Al Naboodah-Laing O'Rouke, refused to comment.

The accident will come as an embarrassment for design consultants Aeroports de Paris (ADP), who were involved not only in the plans for Dubai airport but also for Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. A terminal at Charles de Gaulle partially collapsed in May, killing four people. But ADP claimed the wall in Dubai was designed and built by another firm.