The Florida sinkhole that swallowed a man Thursday night was still growing deep, hindering the rescue operations, official said Friday.
A giant sinkhole opened beneath the bedroom of Bush family’s suburban Tampa home at 11 p.m. Friday and in seconds it swallowed Jeff Bush along with his bed and other articles in the bedroom.
Authorities said the rescuers could not approach the killer sinkhole till late Friday night as the fissure was still growing. The sinkhole with the bedroom as its center was expanding rapidly and could swallow the entire house any time.
“The hole has gotten deeper,” geotechnical engineer Larry Madrid said at a press conference Friday evening. “We can’t get into the building because of the potential for sudden collapse,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The rescue operators said the entire one-storeyed house was above the sinkhole and they were not able to take the equipment to the house for the rescue operations as ground was highly instable.
"Until we know where it's safe to bring the equipment, we really are just handicapped and paralyzed, and can't really do a whole lot more than sit and wait," Hillsborough County Fire Chief Ron Rogers told reporters Friday.
The sinkhole, described as “chasm” by the experts, is estimated to be about 20 feet to 30 feet across and about 30 feet deep. Although the Tampa area is prone to sinkholes, the structural engineers were astounded by the pace and structure of the Friday sinkhole.
"They still have not been able to find the boundaries of the underground chasm. For that reason, we're being very deliberate,” Mike Merrill, county administrator for Hillsborough County, said. "We're very frustrated. But we're pursuing it as quickly as we can, as safely as we can," Merrill was quoted as saying by CNN.
“I’ve never seen anything move so fast and do so much devastation,” Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy Douglas Duvall said in a video posted on the department’s website.
Authorities have evacuated the nearby houses as a precaution as the sinkhole widened.
Authorities have scheduled the rescue operations to resume at 7 a.m. ET Saturday, and the delay in the operations have dwindled the family’s hope of pulling out 36-year-old Bush alive from the sinkhole.
Sinkholes are common in Florida which lies on a bedrock of limestone and other carbonated rock that can be eroded by the acidic ground water, creating vacuum pockets underneath. The earth above the vacuum pockets gives away under pressure, creating sinkholes. Although all the sinkholes are not deadly, many sinkhole disasters have been reported worldwide that have killed several people.
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