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Nando Times

Mechanical failure forces London's Millennium Wheel to close

LONDON (July 21, 2000 9:06 a.m. EDT - London's Millennium Wheel was shut down Friday because of a mechanical failure, sponsor British Airways said.

The technical glitch hit the London Eye overnight. British Airways said no trips would be possible Friday on the popular giant ferris wheel.

"One of the 16 drive wheel mechanisms failed last night so as a precaution we carried out a full inspection of all of them," British Airways said in a statement. "So regrettably we have decided to suspend operations for today to allow further inspections."

A British Airways spokeswoman told AFP the company was waiting to see what engineers had to say about the mechanics before deciding whether to open for business Saturday.

British Airways apologized for Friday's hitch and promised to refund or reschedule pre-booked visits. About 10,000 people visit the attraction each day.

After opening more than one month late in February, the privately-funded London Eye, which has changed the skyline of central London, has attracted more than 1 million visitors for the 45-minute trip that affords spectacular views of London.

The latest mishap follows problems with ventilation eight weeks ago, when customers had to be offered extra water and the number of people in each capsule was reduced to aid airflow.

-- Rachel Gibson (, July 21, 2000

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