'Design flaws' blamed for cave-in at Paris airport

7th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 7 (AFP) - An administrative enquiry into the fatal roof collapse at Charles de Gaulle airport last year will blame flaws in the design and construction of the newly-completed terminal, officials at the Paris airport authority ADP said Monday.

PARIS, Jan 7 (AFP) - An administrative enquiry into the fatal roof collapse at Charles de Gaulle airport last year will blame flaws in the design and construction of the newly-completed terminal, officials at the Paris airport authority ADP said Monday.

Confirming a report in Le Parisien newspaper, the officials said that several senior figures at the airport authority - including possibly its president Pierre Graff - were likely to be placed under judicial investigation after the enquiry team presents its findings on Thursday.

An official close to the committee of enquiry - which is headed by leading French engineer Jean Berthier - confirmed to AFP that "everyone is somewhat implicated" including ADP, the construction company Vinci and the consultancy Bureau Veritas which oversaw the project.

Four people died last May when a 30-metre (33-foot) section of the roof of the ultra-modern 2E terminal caved in, less than a year after it opened.

The enquiry report has detected "several serious errors in the conception of the building," which was designed by the internationally-renowned architect Paul Andreu, Le Parisien said.

Technical examination of the debris has revealed that the concrete used in the terminal was not strong enough to support the metal struts which held in place the exterior glass casing, it said.

Conceived as a 65O-metre tube with no internal supporting structures, Terminal 2E was built in a series of interlocking concrete rings. The curving roof is perforated with square spaces to let in the light and covered with a glass outer shell.

The section which collapsed was further weakened because the side of the building was opened up at that point to let in a connecting walkway to the rest of the airport, Le Parisien said.

The report will be used as evidence by the investigating magistrate Roger le Loire whose task is to determine if individuals or companies can face charges for "involuntary homicide".

Andreu issued a statement Monday denying that the design of the terminal was faulty and blaming "insufficient steel reinforcement of the concrete."

This was the fault of the builders or suppliers who had been issued clear details of the strength of concrete required, he said.

Confirmation of a serious design or construction flaw could mean that the entire EUR 750 million (USD 960 million) building - which has been shut since the accident - will have to be demolished.

The report also points a finger at the controls in place during the commissioning and construction of the terminal. ADP acted as both contracting authority and project manager, Andreu being at the time employed as its director of architecture and engineering.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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