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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sinkholes, Which Swallow Homes, Cars and People, Are Not So Rare

A sinkhole that opened under a bedroom in Florida, swallowing a man who was not recovered, has prompted new interest in the phenomenon. News reports, and videos posted on YouTube, reveal that while such disappearances are rare, the falling of ground that takes homes, cars and other items does happen in the United States and around the world.

Helicopter footage of the Winter Park sinkhole.

In 1981, in Winter Park, Fla., a sinkhole 350 feet wide and 75 feet deep “swallowed a three-bedroom wood frame home,” accordingto The Orlando Sentinel, as well as “part of the city’s swimming pool and at least five Porsches from a German car business. Several of the cars later were rescued with a crane, but two are still down there somewhere.”

A sinkhole in Milwaukee, Wis.

In 2010, a sinkhole under a road in Milwaukee pulled in a sport utility vehicle and a traffic light. “The road just went out from under me,” the driver of the car, Lance Treankler, told CNN. “When I landed, my head snapped back. I went unconscious for a few seconds. When I looked up, I saw water run over me.” He was rescued by a passer-by.

A local news report on a sinkhole in Liberty County, Tex.

This sinkhole, in Liberty County, Tex., grew to the size of multiple football fields in 2008. It causes remained mysterious a few months afterward.

A news report on a sinkhole in Durham, N.C.

Late last year an eight-foot sinkhole in Durham, N.C., swallowed a car. The driver was unhurt, according to this news report.

A Chinese woman falls into a sinkhole.

A video posted by The Daily Telegraph last year shows a Chinese woman walking down the street in the northern city of Xi’an, talking on her cellphone, then disappearing into an 18-foot-deep, person-size hole that opens in the sidewalk underneath her. A passing cab driver, Wang Wei, climbed into the pit to help her, according to the newspaper. “I called out to her, but she didn’t respond,” he said. “After I shook her a little, she came to.” Firefighters got the two out with a ladder, The Telegraph said.

Amateur footage of a car sinking into a hole.

Amateur footage, posted earlier this year on the YouTube channel of Midiamax, a news organization in Campo Grande, Brazil, shows a car sinking into a watery hole.

A car that had driven into a large hole in a Canadian road.

A driver in Canada drove directly into a sinkhole, apparently thinking it was fresh asphalt, according to this CNN report from last year.

A car on the edge of a sinkhole in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Two sinkholes opened up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, last summer. A car can be seen teetering on the edge of one of them.