As there were no operations at the time, no passengers were present in the area

Twenty panels – each measuring 4x4 feet – of the false ceiling in the departure area of the Chennai airport’s new domestic terminal came crashing down early on Monday.

No one was injured in the incident, as there were no passengers or airport employees in the area.

H.S. Suresh, Chennai Airport Director, said the portion of the false ceiling that collapsed covered an area of 60 sq.m. near the security hold area, known as the ‘bus lounge’, located on the ground floor of the terminal. The mishap occurred around 2.00 a.m. As the panels collapsed near the boarding gates H1 and H2, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) closed the area and cordoned it off. Gates H3 and H4 were being used, he said.

A team of officials examined the spot and said it would be fixed soon. “An investigation has been ordered and a case registered with Trisulam police,” Mr Suresh said.

The false ceiling is made of gypsum board and light weight glass wool reinforced ceiling tiles. These tiles are mainly used to reduce noise levels inside the terminal buildings, Mr Suresh said.

An official statement by S. Aboobacker, Joint General Manager, (Engineering-Civil), said: “Before the incident took place, there was an unexpected downpour combined with heavy thunderstorm. There was a gust of strong wind that could have entered the enclosed area, creating a tunneling effect. Fibre board and gypsum board are very light false ceiling material. Because of the wind tunneling effect, a portion of the false ceiling came down.”

Repair work had started in full swing and was expected to be completed on Monday itself. Another officer said the recently commissioned domestic terminal was not covered by insurance. A major mishap will lead to technical hassles while claiming compensation.

Probe ordered

The Civil Aviation Ministry has ordered a probe through the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal told The Hindu in New Delhi that the Ministry was “concerned” about such incidents. “We will look into the issue seriously,” he said.

Cracks had developed in glass panels in the airside of the new terminal early this month.

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