Now the Millennium Curse strikes the London Eye

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The Independent Online

The Millennium Curse has struck again, this time stopping the London Eye in its tracks as one of 16 truck tyres used to propel it shredded and fell into the Thames.

The Millennium Curse has struck again, this time stopping the London Eye in its tracks as one of 16 truck tyres used to propel it shredded and fell into the Thames.

Engineers were unable to say when the 450ft-high wheel might reopen, as they inspected the 15 remaining tyres for unusual signs of wear that could explain why the other one failed so early in its life. About 10,000 people who had booked rides yesterday were promised rebookings or refunds.

"This propulsion system is used in attractions all over the world, but we've never heard of this happening," said a spokeswoman for the Eye, run by British Airways, yesterday. The failure followed the problems suffered by the Millennium Bridge at Southwark. That opened last month but was closed within three days after it began swaying alarmingly as crowds crossed it. The builders, Arap, could not say yesterday when it will reopen.

The tyre failure happened at about 9pm on Thursday night. The 16 foam-filled tyres lie along the base of the wheel and propel the main wheel at a speed of about one revolution every half-hour. Since it began operating in February, the wheel has in effect travelled only 1,000 miles - truck tyres should last many times more.

Engineers from Hollandia, the Dutch engineering company that looks after the propulsion unit, were using ultrasound to examine the other tyres, and had recovered pieces of the failed tyre from the Thames, but no findings were released.

The London Eye is no stranger to delays and problems. It was late in being raised, and missed its planned New Year's opening date by two months because of safety problems with the 32 glass passenger capsules. There have also been problems with ventilation in the capsules.

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