The sudden appearance of a massive sinkhole in Puebla state scared the farmer family living nearby. Local authorities immediately secured the area and asked locals to stay away to avoid potential loss of life.
Situated in Central Mexico, near Santa María Zacatepec, the sinkhole appeared just this past Saturday, and grew very quickly in a matter of hours. This fast growth endangered a nearby house, however, the family was relocated by authorities.
The sinkhole's unusually fast growth, from 16 feet to 197 feet in diameter and a depth over 65 feet, alerted the government and experts. While the locals are being kept away from the field, security officers are guarding the perimeter.
Aerial shot of a massive sinkhole in Santa Maria Zacatepec, Puebla, Mexico | Source: YouTube/DW News
SITUATION UNDER INVESTIGATION
Puebla state's environmental secretary Beatriz Manrique came to the scene and organized the investigations regarding the underlying causes for the sinkhole to appear. Later, during a statement to news outlets she explained:
"We think that it might be a combination of two factors: the softening of the field, the whole area was being cultivated, as well as the extraction of groundwater, which softens the subsoil."
The ongoing investigations will include soil and water samples from the area and may take up to 30 days. According to local news outlets, the sinkhole is filled with water that is constantly moving, which may cause it to expand even further.
CAME WITH A THUNDEROUS SOUND
The family living in the threatened house described the incident starting with a thunder-like sound around 6 o'clock, and witnessing the earth sinking when they went out to check what was happening.
[The giant sinkhole] covered an area of 21,527 square-feet and has a depth of 66 feet.
United States Geological Survey later explained that the possible reason behind it is the erosion of the rock layer under the topsoil by the movement of underground waters. The ground gives way when it cannot support the topsoil anymore.
SINKHOLE IN NAPLES, ITALY
Another sinkhole opened up halfway around the world in January 2021, in Naples, Italy. Happening at the visitors' parking lot of Hospital of the Sea, the sinkhole interrupted electricity and water services. Chief firefighter Enio Aquilino said:
"It’s almost certain that the rainwater from these past few days caused the seepage that resulted in the collapse."
The giant sinkhole covered an area of 21,527 square feet and has a depth of 66 feet. Its appearance also destroyed several vehicles parked in the area and caused the relocation of several COVID-19 patients from the hospital.
NO LOSS OF LIFE
While the existing six patients were relocated, the Hospital of the Sea was being used for a COVID-19 testing center. The local government expressed their fear of losing a valuable health center, especially in the time of a pandemic.
Further investigations regarding the reason for the sinkhole's appearance will be made, according to local authorities. However, all the required studies may take up to a month, if not more due to the ongoing quarantine situation.
The positive side of this news is that even though there is a serious amount of material damage, no loss of life was recorded in either incident unlike a January 2020 sinkhole in China where at least 6 people were killed and 16 were injured.
According to USGS, sinkholes appear very sudden and grow quickly because the top layer of soil usually stays intact while underground waters dissolve the rock formation slowly over time and make the hole bigger.