LETTER : Where blame lies for airport fire

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The Independent Online
Sir: Having had the misfortune to be inside Dusseldorf airport when fire broke out last Thursday, I was concerned to read (12 April) that the high death toll is being blamed on "people in the terminal panicking and ignoring instructions to use the fire exits". I suspect that an attempt is being made (co-ordinated or otherwise) to distract attention from the inadequacies of the airport's fire precautions and emergency response.

The crucial questions that will have to be answered at the inevitable inquiry include:

1. Why were the fire alarms never sounded?

2. How was smoke from a fire in one section of a very large building able to fill the entire building within five minutes of the fire's outbreak?

3. Why did it take the airport fire brigade at least 10 minutes to reach the terminal from their fire station which lies only 500 metres away?

4. Why was a large and often densely populated public building not fitted with a sprinkler system?

With so many important questions still unanswered it is premature of the authorities to place blame at the feet of those unfortunate enough to have been caught up in the catastrophe.

Peter Statham

Maidenhead, Berkshire