The images were released by West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service which was called to the incident in the Acocks Green area of Birmingham at 12.21pm today.
Video from a nearby shop in Warwick Road showed the manhole beginning to smoke as a family walk past with their toddler in tow, completely unaware of the drama about to unfold.
Suddenly there is a flash and the cover is hurled off, leaving the little girl stunned.
Shop owner Masood Mushtaq, who provided the footage to firefighters, said he heard a “loud explosion” and ran out to find the family recovering from shock on the pavement.
“The couple were with the little baby girl and she was crying, and the man was rubbing the side of her face to comfort her,” he said.
Firefighters who watched the footage said it had been a stroke of good fortune that nobody was hurt.
The explosion left a crater 3ft (1m) deep in the footpath, and utility companies have been at the scene helping to work out what caused the blast.
A West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “We were called to Warwick Road in Acocks Green at 12.21pm today, to what’s believed to have been a small explosion involving utilities.
“Two manhole covers became dislodged and a 1m-deep hole was left in the footpath.
“Fortunately and amazingly the family passing by weren’t hurt.
“Utility companies are investigating who owns the manholes concerned and the cause.”
Mr Mushtaq, who runs the Divine Collections mirror shop, said the same manhole had exploded last year.
“This time, the lights flickered just before it happened and then there was a loud explosion,” he said.
“But it was nothing compared to when it exploded six or seven months ago.
“That time the manhole cover went about six or seven feet up into the air.”