Another Sinkhole Opens in Town Where Florida Man was Swallowed in His Sleep

First Posted: Mar 25, 2013 09:04 AM EDT

Yet another sinkhole has opened up in the Florida town that saw a man swallowed by a similar pit just weeks earlier. The sinkhole, which opened up between two homes, prompted the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue to hurry to the scene to check the stability of the ground.

The latest hole appeared at about 7 p.m. on Saturday. Although not nearly as large as the one that swallowed the Florida man and his house, this one was still an impressive 8 feet in diameter and 10 feet deep. Taking precautions, the authorities evacuated the homes on either side of the sinkhole.

Sinkholes, which are essentially holes that open suddenly in the ground, occur due to a variety of factors. Sometimes, erosion due to underground water that gathers due to man-made activities is the cause. Other times, sinkholes occur after material is taken out of the ground--such as water or minerals. The formation of these holes can be dramatic because surface land stays intact until there is not enough support. Then, a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur. The states most affected by this phenomenon are Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.

Sinkholes can cause major damage, destroying both buildings and killing people as the sinkhole opens up beneath them. Just three weeks ago, 37-year-old Jeff Bush was swallowed by a 20-foot-wide sinkhole that completely destroyed his bedroom. Officials frantically searched for the man to determine if he was still alive, but eventually the hunt was called off on March 3 after it became too dangerous for workers.The hole was filled in.

Sinkholes have quite the history and can be massive in size. In 1994, a 15-story sinkhole tore open beneath an 80-million-ton pile of gypsum stack, which is toxic industrial waste. The incident contaminated Florida's drinking water, and cleanup efforts ranged into the millions of dollars. In Texas, the cavernous Devil's Sinkhole shows that sinkholes can plunge as much as 400 feet.

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