Sinkhole in Puebla An aerial view of the sinkhole in Puebla. The white construction is the Sánchez Xalamihua family's home.

Huge sinkhole in Puebla field is over 100 meters across, threatens house

Collapsed ground's expansion threatens to swallow family's home

A sinkhole filled with bubbling water that first appeared in a Puebla field on Saturday has grown rapidly and is threatening to swallow a family’s home.

The Sánchez Xalamihua family heard a loud crash on Saturday night and initially thought it was a clap of thunder. But the noise was in fact caused by the collapse of ground in a field that adjoins their home in Santa María Zacatepec, a community about 20 kilometers northwest of Puebla city.

The sinkhole, which was initially about 10 meters wide, grew to 30 meters across on Sunday and reached a diameter of 60 meters on Monday, according to authorities. It continued to expand on Tuesday as large chunks of earth broke away from its rim and now reaches more than 100 meters across, according to a report by Uno TV.

The sinkhole’s rapid growth has brought its edge dangerously close to the family’s home. Heriberto Sanchez, originally from Veracruz, told reporters that the house could fall into the 20-meter-deep chasm and they will be left without a home.

“We have nothing. We’re not from here. We have no relatives. We’re alone.”

According to authorities and scientists, among the possible causes for the sinkhole’s sudden appearance are a geological fault or variations in the soil’s water content. Some locals believe that it’s related to the overexploitation of groundwater reserves.

Magdalena Xalamihua said that her family noticed a sulfur smell three days before the sinkhole appeared.

State and federal authorities were dispatched to conduct geological studies and the area surrounding the sinkhole was cordoned off by municipal police.

A video posted to social media showed two men approaching the sinkhole just before it abruptly widened, forcing them to quickly retreat to safety. Locals have flocked to the site to look at the unusual phenomenon — from a safe distance.

“It will grow until nature decides, when the water stops exerting pressure,” Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa said. “The important thing now is public safety.”

Any people adversely affected by the sinkhole will be compensated by authorities, Barbosa said.

Magdalena Xalamihua speaks to reporters.
Magdalena Xalamihua speaks to reporters.

Source: AFP (en), UNO TV (sp) 

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