China inaugurated the largest airport terminal in the world Friday, a soaring golden-roofed structure evoking a flying dragon, after a race to finish it for the expected deluge of visitors to the Beijing Summer Olympics.
Nearly 2 miles long, the $3.8 billion terminal, which covers 240 acres, is the world’s largest covered structure.
“Our Chinese people should be very proud when they pass in and out of this airport,” Aviation Minister Li Jiaxiang told journalists.
Employing 50,000 laborers at the peak of construction, the sky-lit terminal was built extraordinarily fast. From the groundbreaking to Friday’s inauguration, only three years and nine months elapsed.
One of the 10 busiest airports in the world, Beijing’s airport handled 53.5 million passengers last year, far more than its capacity of 35 million. With the new terminal, the airport can handle 96 million passengers a year and 1,590 flights a day.
By 2012, the airport will become one of the five busiest in the world, after London’s Heathrow, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, Chicago’s O’Hare and Tokyo’s Haneda, Arup said in a news release.
Terminal 3, as the new terminal is called, is double the size of two other terminals. Even with the addition, however, China’s aviation growth will make the airport suffer from overcrowding again within seven years, experts say.
Bomber kills 38 at officer’s funeral
A suicide bomber killed at least 38 people and wounded scores of others Friday at a police officer’s funeral in the country’s troubled northwest, officials said.
The blast in the scenic Swat valley was a graphic reminder of the rising Islamic insurgency confronting the country’s new leadership. Opposition parties decisively won a Feb. 18 parliamentary vote and are in the process of forming a new government.
The Swat valley, about 100 miles from the capital, Islamabad, for months has been the focal point of a deadly struggle between militants and government troops. The government has claimed to have subdued the armed followers of a radical cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, but attacks continue. Last week, more than a dozen people at a wedding party were killed in a bombing in the district.
Friday’s attack came as funeral services were being held in Mingora, the district capital, for a high-ranking police officer killed in a roadside bombing earlier in the day in another part of the country.
Troops to transfer captives to Afghans
Canadian troops will resume transferring insurgency prisoners to Afghan authorities, a practice that was halted late last year amid claims of torture, officials said Friday.
Lt. Col. Grant Dame, chief of staff for Joint Task Force Afghanistan, said the military is satisfied conditions in Afghan prisons have improved since the allegations of torture emerged.
“The actions taken by the government of Afghanistan and by Canadian officials in Kandahar to address concerns have been carefully considered,” Dame said.
Transfers were halted in November after Canadian officials saw evidence that one prisoner was abused at the hands of his Afghan captors after being handed over by the Canadians.
From wire reports