February 26, 2007
By JUAN CARLOS LLORCA, Associated Press Writer
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala - A 330-foot-deep sinkhole killed at least two teenagers as it swallowed about a dozen homes early Friday and forced the evacuation of nearly 1,000 people in a crowded Guatemala City neighborhood. Officials blamed the sinkhole on recent rains and an underground sewage flow from a ruptured main.
The pit emitted foul odors, loud noises and tremors, shaking the surrounding ground. A rush of water could be heard from its depths, and authorities feared it could widen or others could open up.
Rescue operations were on hold until a firefighter, suspended from a cable, could take video and photos above the hole and officials could use the documentation to decide how to proceed.
The dead were identified as Irma and David Soyos, emergency spokesman Juan Carlos Bolanos said. Their bodies were found near the sinkhole, floating in a river of sewage.
Their father, Domingo, was still missing, according to disaster coordinator Hugo Hernandez.
February 26, 2007—After rumbling for weeks, part of a poor Guatemala City neighborhood plummeted some 30 stories into the Earth on Friday.
The reportedly 330-foot-deep (100-meter-deep) sinkhole swallowed about a dozen homes and is so far blamed in the deaths of three people—two teenagers, found floating in torrent of sewage, and their father, who was pulled from the chasm.
Rainstorms and a ruptured sewer main may have caused the sinkhole, officials in Guatemala told the Associated Press. After the collapse, the seemingly bottomless depths gave off tremors, sounds of flowing water, and the scent of sewage.
Sinkholes can occur when underground rocks that can be dissolved by water—such as salt, gypsum, and limestone—are inundated. The removal of groundwater can also leave gaps underground that can lead to sinkholes.
While the cause of the Guatemala City abyss remains uncertain, it's effects are undeniable.
Police established a 500-yard (457-meter) no-go zone around the sinkhole, and nearly a thousand people were forced to evacuate—some perhaps forever.
"Last night a friend had to take my handicapped wife out on motorcycle," 15-year resident Antonio Fuentes, 50, told the Associated Press. "Now I'm leaving for good, never to come back."
SOURCE: National Geographic
Several houses and at least one lorry have been swallowed by a giant sinkhole in a poor district of Guatemala City.
The hole is said to be more than 100m (330ft) deep. Residents said they had felt the earth shaking and heard loud noises before the houses collapsed.
More than 1,000 homes were evacuated in the area. The national emergency agency said there had not been any casualties.
Officials said the sinkhole had probably been caused by a saturated sewer main.
"I was in my house and I started to hear booming and I heard the earth shaking, and then I realised the houses had collapsed [into the sinkhole]," neighbour Maria Rivas was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
Officials had initially urged residents to stay at home on Thursday night, but later decided to move them to temporary shelters.
Three people who had officially been declared missing turned up later, national disaster co-ordinator Hugo Hernandez said.
Mayor Alvaro Arzu said the sewers were now being repaired and help was being offered to those affected.
Story from BBC
Published: 2007/02/23 19:47:28 GMT
© BBC MMVIII
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