One dead after roof collapses at Delhi airport in heavy rains

Airport authority temporarily suspends all departures from affected Terminal 1 to clear debris.

At least one person has died after the roof of a terminal building in the Indian capital’s main airport partially collapsed due to heavy rains, with several domestic flights cancelled.

The collapse occurred in New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport early on Friday, with authorities evacuating Terminal 1 and cancelling flights until 2pm (08:30 GMT), civil aviation minister K Ram Mohan Naidu told reporters at the facility, confirming the death.

Atul Garg, the director of Delhi Fire Services, said at least eight people were injured in the collapse in the terminal’s domestic departure area.

Broadcast images showed a taxi crushed under a wrecked metal pillar at the entrance area of the terminal, which is mostly used by low-cost carriers IndiGo and SpiceJet for domestic flights.

The airport authority said the collapse had been caused by “heavy rain” at 5am (23:30 GMT on Thursday).

“Emergency personnel are working to provide all necessary assistance and medical aid to those affected,” said the authority in a statement.

In addition to the roof, some support beams also collapsed, damaging cars in the pick-up and drop-off area at the terminal, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

The airport area received about 148.5mm of rain over three hours in the early morning, more than the average for all of June, according to India’s weather office. Many other parts of the capital were flooded as the annual monsoon hit after a long stretch of heatwaves.

The collapse occurred months after a refurbishment project at the airport was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The airport is considered one of his flagship infrastructure projects.

Safety and construction standards in the country remain a concern. At the scene, Naidu told reporters that the collapsed roof was part of an older building opened in 2009 and that the building inaugurated by Modi “is on the other side”.

An inquiry has been ordered into the collapse, said the minister.

Opposition politicians slammed the prime minister after the incident, accusing him of going on an “inauguration spree” ahead of the polls, which concluded at the beginning of this month.

“Will the Chief Inauguration Minister take responsibility for this poor construction work and this corrupt model?” said Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, general secretary of the opposition Congress party.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies