Sunday, October 10, 2004
[E] Boom! (again)
My friend Zvonči was leaving Paris for Zagreb today, so I went with her to the CDG airport. We were walking down the lenght of long and narrow terminal 2B concourse trying to locate appropriate passport control booth (this particular terminal is organised so that you first go through passport check, and only then to check-in), when we encountered several police or airport security guys clearing an area of the concourse perhaps 10 meters long. As luck would have it, that area contained the booths we were after. Lukcily, there was plenty of time - Zvonči likes to leave herself wide margins. Anyway, we went outside for a smoke and saw wide assorment of uniformed and armed guys (local police, airport security, gendarmes, army, CRS (but not funny-looking ones like Asterix and Obelix here) clearing the segment of sidewalk and directing buses and taxis to stop a bit further down the access road. All this was done firmly, but at leisurely pace and without a bit of nervousness.
We thought at first they were preparing for arrival of some dignitary or celebrity whose VIP status would warrant keeping public at bay, but after a while a guy with 'Civil Security - Bomb Squad' (actually, 'Deminage' or something like that) on his jacket walked in. After nothing further happened for twenty minutes or so, we went in search of other passport checking booth, located it, verified that Croatian's check-in can be reached from there, and I waved Zvonči good-by. When I exited, the length of blocked sidewalk still stood between me and RER station. Instead of taking a local shuttle bus, I decided to wait. After a minute of so a muted 'bang' was heard from the building. Another minute later the blocade of the area was lifted.
The cause of this was probably an abandoned piece of luggage, which French police handles (I learned later) by covering it with something like huge armored garbage bin and detonating a small explosive charge inside. The point is, no terminal evacuation, no dramatic PA announcements, no three-hour delay, no 8 o'clock news. Routine reaction to routine potential threat, exactly as drastic aa necessary, no less, no more. Those black-clad CRS guys and their brethern seen to know their job, and nobody is trying to collect political or professional bownie points by overreacting.