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Airport Terminal Collapses

'Fahrenheit 9/11' Wins at Cannes

Paris:– Sunday, 23. May 2004:– Early this morning a 40–metre section of the new Terminal 2–E collapsed at Charles–de–Gaulle airport, killing 'five or six' people and injuring four others, one seriously. All were apparently airline passengers.

Witnesses saw dust falling from the structure's ceiling, heard crackling, and alerted airport authorities, who tried to evacuate personnel and passengers. But the multi–ton overhead terminal section gave way, and crashed to the level of the runway.

The 'plan rouge' sent 250 rescuers into action and rescue workers arrived on the scene to search the wreckage for victims and survivors. Search dogs on the scene indicated that there were few, if any, remaining trapped in the in the twisted wreck of the steel, concrete and glass tube. An emergency hospital was set up on the spot.

The accident occurred about 7:00 this morning just as Air France flights from Newark and Johannesburg were disembarking, and a flight to Prague was embarking. There also were other passengers in the area were waiting for other flights.

About 60 of these were shifted to other terminals at the same airport, with delays but no cancellations. The new 2–E terminal was opened last June, in a somewhat unfinished state, as I noted in July when I passed through it on the way to New York City.

Both the Minister of Transport, Gilles de Robien, and the Minister of the Interior, Dominique de Villepin, were at the accident scene today. The director of Aéroports de Paris, Hubert du Mesnil, guessed that the sole cause of the accident was the collapse of the structure.

Aéroports de Paris was reported to have spent about 750 million euros on the building that is the principle Air France international terminal. It is also used by Air France partners AeroMexico, Alitalia, CSA, Delta, and Korean Airlines.

Currently, about six million passengers transit through the new terminal, which was designed to handle up to ten million by the end of this year. It was to be a key element making Charles–de–Gaulle airport into a primary airline hub with more traffic than London or Frankfurt. The 2–E terminal was designed to handle 17 passenger jets, including the coming jumbo Airbus, the A380.

Palme d'Or for 'Fahrenheit 9/11'

Last night France–2 TV–news announced that Michael Moore's film, in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, had been awarded with the top prize, the 'Palme d'Or.'

Near the end of the news broadcast the film director was also interviewed on a live feed from Cannes. He said he was 'completely overwhelmed,' adding, "It's an enormous surprise." According to Reuters, the triumph of the film was no great surprise after the standing ovation it received after its official screening in competition last Monday at the Grand Théâtre Lumière.

But it was the first time since Jacques Cousteau's 'Le Monde de Silence' won in 1956 that a documentary has been honored. However, winning at Cannes was not a first for Mr. Moore, who won an award for 'Bowling for Columbine' two years ago.

During the press conference following the awards, Mr. Moore was quoted as saying that the expected the right–wing press in the United States would claim the Palme d'Or was a strictly French prize. But he also noted that four of the jurors were American – Kathleen Turner, Jerry Schatzberg, and Edwidge Danticat. The festival's president was Quentin Tarantino.

The only French juror was the actress Emanuelle Béart. Other jurors were British actress Tilda Swinton, Belgian actor Benoit Poelvoode, Finnish critic Peter von Bagh and the Hong Kong director Tsui Hark

During the TV–news interview, Mr. Moore said he was positive that the film would be shown in cinemas in the United States, with emphasis on 'this summer.' He said, "Americans have a right to see it."

Elsewhere, Frank Rich writing in the New York Times, thought that Disney would not hinder distribution of the film, 'on account of the money to be made.' And the White House, if it tries to muffle the film, 'will fan the PR flames' for the director.

Frank Rich also writes that 'Fahrenheit 9/11' isn't the film you might expect from Michael Moore. In it, the past that we all know well enough is merely sketched, while today's actual news headlines have caught up to the film's content – which it not something that Mr. Moore could have written into the script.

The director's opponents should know that Michael Moore nearly removes himself the second half of 'Fahrenheit 9/11' – and lets the story tell itself. He only jumps in right at the end, to praise 'America's volunteer army,' to conclude, "And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary."

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