London

Exploding pavements 'put lives at risk' as 40 incidents occur in the last year

Pimlico pavement explosion Image copyright Other
Image caption A pavement exploded in Pimlico on 26 April 2013 narrowly missing a passerby

Exploding pavements are "putting lives at risk" in London with 80 incidents since 2010, figures have revealed.

The Health and Safety Executive statistics showed there were 40 cases in 2014 with eight in the N postcode.

Labour London Assembly Member Murad Qureshi claimed it was a result of poor maintenance and it was "fortunate" it had not resulted in a fatality.

But UK Power Networks said it "worked tirelessly" to maintain and invest in London's network.


Why pavements explode

Blasts and fires can be caused by electrical faults, often when water has leaked through to exposed cables.

They can also be caused by gas leaks ignited by sparks underground - or gas coming into contact with faulty cables.


The statistics, retrieved by Mr Qureshi through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, specified incidents involving link boxes or cable pits - underground connections and the access chamber - which required the fire service.

Image caption In July 2014 a van driver had a lucky escape in Piccadilly when the pavement exploded

Mr Qureshi said: "I think we're very fortunate that the incidents... haven't actually resulted in any fatalities of any sort.

"They're making good money out of running the network. It's time UK Power Networks did everything possible to crack down on this potentially life-threatening problem."

The HSE said the increase may be down to water getting into the wiring due to wet weather .

UK Power Networks said: "Although such incidents are extremely rare, we do everything in our power to mitigate the risk."

It said it was set to invest about £1.5bn over the next seven years in London's network.

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