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Latino Daily News

Friday July 22, 2011

Olympic Size Problem:  Manhole Covers Exploding in Rio De Janeiro

Olympic Size Problem:  Manhole Covers Exploding in Rio De Janeiro

Photo: Exploding Manholes in Brazil

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

More than 60 manhole covers have been blown into the skies since last year, injuring bystanders and causing thousands in damages.

Explosions are mostly caused by old transformers inside underground junction boxes failing, sparking and igniting gasses;  two American tourists were hit by flying manhole covers in Copacabana, the flying manhole covers have totaled parked motorcycles, shattered windows, and caused thousands of dollars of damage.  But who is responsible? The manhole cover owners: Rio’s electricity company Light says the government.

“We are renovating the underground system, which is more than 60 years old and has visible signs of stress and aging,” Jerson Kelman President of Light said. “We started with the boxes where there are transformers. There’s never been this kind of investment in reforming the underground system, we have 88 million reais [around $56 million]. Cash is there, but we can not fix everything in a month.

Kelman stated that in April, 130 manhole covers had shown signs of explosion, but the Rio de Janeiro state public prosecutor’s office believes the real number could be as high as 4,000 and have sued Light, saying they “turned the city’s streets and avenues into veritable minefields.” Which is not good news for Brazil as its trying to put it best foot forward for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. 

“The risk of unexpected lethal explosions only exists in places that are at war or where there are bomb threats,” it said in a brief. A judge ruled that Light must pay a 100,000 reais fine (around $64,000) for any explosion in the future.

Locals have taken the whole situation in stride, some saying the stray bullets from Rio’s drug wars have been replaced by stray manhole covers, some that they were evidence that flying saucers exist. Artists glued adhesives on the ground around selected covers to make them looking like time bombs, it seems that Rio is aware that this all will change soon, as renovations for the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 take place.