China Menaced by Exploding Manhole Covers


China’s manhole covers have lately been scything through the air as a result of mysterious underground explosions.

The most recent incident occurred in China’s Anhui province early one morning, when two iron manhole covers weighing tens of kilograms each were suddenly blown out.

Such was the force of the bast that a motorbike parked on one of the covers was propelled over a 2m high fence into the grounds of a neighbouring apartment building. Other bikes parked nearby were knocked over.

Local residents were woken by the blast, but as it was 5AM there appear to have been neither direct witnesses nor casualties.

Engineers from the local gas company investigated, determining it “looked like some kind of gas explosion,” but they could not determine whether it was due to a gas leak in the sewer or a build-up of methane from decaying organic matter. As a precaution they turned off the local gas supply whilst they tested the pipes.

The city in question is no stranger to flying manhole covers – similar incidents occurred in 2007 and twice in 2010. In the 2007 incident injuries resulted from flying bikes, whilst in the most recent 2010 incident all the manholes down a 100m stretch of street were sent flying by an explosion in the sewers.

Public infrastructure of questionable quality is of course nothing new in China either…


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