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Recent freak pavement explosions have injured at least seven in London

20 July 2012

A series of pavement explosions has injured at least seven pedestrians in London in recent months, the Standard revealed on July 20. One pensioner is now suing a power supply company after he was left seriously injured by an explosion under a manhole in a London street. 

The aftermath of a manhole explosion in Hackney
The aftermath of a manhole explosion in Hackney

Details of his case emerged just weeks after a woman pedestrian suffered 20 per cent burns in a similar freak explosion in Edgware Road.

Colin Wingate, 75, was left in a wheelchair for nearly three months after the blast blew out a manhole cover he was standing on while chatting to friends.

In May a 55-year-old woman and two other women pedestrians were injured when the pavement they were walking on blew up in an explosion apparently caused by an electrical fault.

The incident is now being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive which revealed to the Standard they know of at least three more pavement explosions which injured pedestrians in London in the past 19 months. They say there were other cases which did not result in injuries. 

Mr Wingate was blown into the air by a blast in Harrow in August last year.

He is claiming negligence by UK Power Networks, a Hong Kong owned company that owns and maintains the electrical cabling supplying London’s power. The company is also at the centre of an HSE inquiry into the Edgware Road blast.

UK Power Networks said it was not appropriate to comment as the matter was being dealt with by lawyers. A spokesman said : “We would like to reiterate that events such as the one unfortunately encountered by Mr Wingate are unusual.

“The safety of our staff and customers is our main priority. We undertake a robust programme of regular checks and maintenance on our overhead lines and underground cables plus associated equipment. “

A HSE spokesperson commented: "The Health and Safety Executive is aware of a number of other incidents in the London area in recent years involving exploding utility equipment, including pit covers and electrical boxes. The majority of these incidents did not result in injury, and were attributed to electrical faults and/or gas leaks. They were investigated with UK Power Networks.

"Our prime focus at this time is an ongoing investigation into the latest incident on Edgware Road. We cannot comment or speculate on what caused this particular explosion."

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