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Paris airport roof collapse

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Weaknesses in the concrete used for the roof of a futuristic Paris airport terminal were the main cause of its collapse that killed four people on May 23, an official report said on Tuesday.

Citing a report that steered clear of apportioning blame, the French Transport Ministry said it was still not totally clear why the accident happened at Terminal 2E of Charles De Gaulle Airport over two years after it was built.

"The view of the commission is that the main cause of the sudden collapse is linked to the perforation of the concrete roof by the struts (supporting it)," the ministry said of the initial findings of an investigative commission.

"It is likely that this perforation was facilitated by the prior and gradual weakening of the concrete," it added.

The report did not comment on the future of the terminal, built at a cost of EUR750 million (USD$920 million) and designed to handle 10 million passengers a year.

Permanent closure of the showcase building would be a big blow to the finances and image of operator Aeroports de Paris (ADP) as it prepares for partial privatization.

Part of the terminal was opened to staff last month but ADP has pledged to demolish the cylindrical building if the structure is found to be fundamentally flawed.

A public prosecutor is carrying out a separate inquiry into the collapse, which could establish who is to blame.

The terminal was used mainly by national carrier Air France and was opened just over a year ago.

Hailed as a triumph of engineering and design, the terminal has a domed roof dotted with windows bathing it in light. But the collapse raised questions both about its design and whether it was built too fast.

The report said it was unlikely that the collapse was linked either to the foundations of the building or to the pillars on which the whole terminal was supported above the ground.