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26May94 UK: MAINS BLUNDER FLOODS HAMMERSMITH HOMES.

More than 100 homes in Hammersmith, west London, were flooded last week after workers for duct work contractor McNicholas shattered a cast iron water main. The blunder has cost residents and shop owners in the area thousands of pounds in damage to their homes and premises. A Thames Water emergency team was called in to control the situation, but took almost three hours to locate the valve and turn off the water supply. McNicholas, which is laying duct for cable television firm Videotron Corporation, had been digging a 450 mm deep trench when workers hit the water main just 250 mm below the surface. Nick Kane, group managing director of Videotron, said the accident was 'terrible bad luck'. In a statement, Videotron said street plans showed the existence of a water main but did not refer accurately to its depth or position.McNicholas took the precaution of digging two trial 2 m deep holes to locate the main but failed to overcover the pipe. Talks are still taking place between Thames Water, the cable company and contractor over who will meet the cost.