Man disappears into Florida sinkhole

A giant sinkhole that swallowed several homes in Guatemala City  in 2007. Photograph: Daniel LeClair/Reuters

A giant sinkhole that swallowed several homes in Guatemala City in 2007. Photograph: Daniel LeClair/Reuters

Fri, Mar 1, 2013, 00:00

A Florida man screamed for help and disappeared as a large sinkhole opened under the bedroom of his house, his brother said today.

The brother told rescue crews he heard a loud crash near midnight then heard his brother screaming.

“When he got there, there was no bedroom left,” Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico said. “There was no furniture. All he saw was a piece of the mattress sticking up.”

The brother called police and frantically tried to help. An arriving deputy had to pull him away from the still-collapsing house.

There’s been no contact with the man since then, and neighbours on both sides of the home have been evacuated.

“We put engineering equipment into the sinkhole and didn’t see anything compatible with life,” Ms Damico said. But he would not say that the man is presumed dead.

She estimated that the sinkhole was about 9m (30ft)  across.

“The entire house is on the sinkhole,” she said.

Sinkholes, also known as swallow-holes, are a naturally occurring holes caused by erosion in the Earth's surface and can vary in width and depth. Sinkholes often appear following storms or earthquakes and generally occur in limestone regions.

AP