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5 Die in Charles de Gaulle Airport Roof Collapse - 2004-05-23

Part of a terminal roof in the Charles de Gaulle airport just outside Paris collapsed early Sunday, killing at least five people and injuring several others.

Rescue dogs helped uncover the bodies of the victims amid the chunks of concrete and metal in terminal 2-E of Charles de Gaulle airport. Some of the victims were pinned under the debris of a chunk of the terminal's roof, which had collapsed over a waiting area in the passenger terminal. Ambulances and fire squads rushed to the area.

The terminal was opened less than a year ago at a cost of about $900 million.

Officials were not immediately able to explain the cause of the collapse, which occurred in one of the world's busiest airport.

Michel Sapin, the prefect of the Seine-St. Denis region, where the airport is located, told France-Info radio the incident took place just before seven o'clock in the morning.

Mr. Sapin said that fortunately passenger traffic was light at that hour of the morning. Only two flights had arrived at the terminal, from New York and Johannesburg, and only one was scheduled to leave from the area, a flight bound for Prague.

The injured included a passenger from China and another from Ivory Coast. Mr. Sapin said their injuries were not life threatening.

The terminal was evacuated, and some flights were diverted to Paris' other airport, Orly.

The numbers of injured and dead were also kept down because the ceiling cracked shortly before the collapse, and police were in the process of evacuating the area. Some of the injured were hurt by flying glass from windows that broke when the concrete and metal of the ceiling fell.

Last year, a leading French union complained about pressure from the Paris airport company and Air France to finish building the terminal. After two delays, the building was opened last June.