Sinkholes around the world

By MSN UK News/PA/Rex Features Rex Features
1 of 15 To full screen

Giant sinkhole appears in back garden

A huge 20m-wide sinkhole has appeared outside a family home in Leshan, in south-west China's Sichuan Province.

According to 58-year-old Zhang Fengrong, the hole opened up overnight. Fengrong said he and several relatives had tried to measure the depth of the pit using a rope attached to a heavy iron, but after they used up the 40m-long rope the iron still hadn't hit ground. "It used to be land for vegetables, but in a blink the land disappeared along with several fruit trees," added Fengrong's son Zhang Shiyin.

Click through the images below for more snapshots of when sinkholes strike.

AP Photo/Jens Meyer
2 of 15 To full screen

Germany, 2010

In November 2010 a large sinkhole opened up in the middle of a housing estate in Schmalkalden, central Germany. The cavity measured 30 metres by 30 metres. Emergency services were called to the area when a resident reported hearing unusual noises. For safety reasons six homes and 25 people were evacuated.

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
3 of 15 To full screen

Guatemala City, 2010

Sinkholes are most common in limestone areas were underground water can createcaverns that can suddenly collapse. One of the most spectacular sinkholes in recent years occurred in Guatemala City in 2010. Authorities blamed heavy rains caused by tropical storm Agatha for the damage.

AP Photo/The Standard-Speaker, Mia Light
4 of 15 To full screen

Frackville, Pennsylvania, 2006

In June 2006, days of rainfall caused a sinkhole to open up on Route 924 to the north of Frackville, Pennsylvania. In this photo, two tow trucks, one out of frame bottom left, hoist a pick-up truck from out of the 60-foot-deep hole. The critically injured driver of the truck was transported by helicopter to the Hershey Medical Centre. A second vehicle, a car, was driven into the hole immediately after the truck.

AP Photo
5 of 15 To full screen

Mexico City, 2007

An entire street was swallowed by a sinkhole in Mexico City in July 2007. The hole began as a giant crack and rapidly worsened when the ground collapsed, swallowing a car, the pavement, and the facade of a one-story brick building.

AP Photo/Nick Ut
6 of 15 To full screen

Los Angeles, 2009

A fire engine drove into a sinkhole in the Valley Village neighbourhood of Los Angeles in September 2009. Four firefighters escaped injury. The hole was caused by a burst water main in the San Fernando Valley.

AP Photo
7 of 15 To full screen

Florida, 1981

This sinkhole in Winter Park, Florida in May 1981 swallowed a number of sports cars. Sinkholes can be caused by a slow or sudden erosion of the earth's crust, the collapse of a cave roof, the subsidence of a layer of rock thanks to an increase in underground water, a chance in natural water-drainage patterns or as a consequence of nearby drilling.

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
8 of 15 To full screen

Guatemala City, 2007

A giant sinkhole opened up in Guatemala City in February 2007, swallowing several homes. At least three people were later reported as missing.

AP Photo/Fred Greaves
9 of 15 To full screen

San Diego, 1998

A large underground storm drain burst in February 1998 in San Diego in California, causing soil to wash away and a sinkhole to emerge in the ground. One car fell into the hole, but its occupants escaped uninjured.

AP Photo/Shiho Fukada
10 of 15 To full screen

Brooklyn, 2006

This sinkhole in Brooklyn in New York in March 2006 was caused by a break in an underground water main. A sports utility vehicle got stuck in the hole, but the driver was not seriously injured.

AP Photo/The Leaf-Chronicle, Alicia Archuleta
11 of 15 To full screen

Clarksville, 2006

A pick-up truck fell foul of a sinkhole behind the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System Central Office in Clarksville, Tennessee in May 2006.

AP Photo/The Springfield News-Leader, Dean Curtis
12 of 15 To full screen

Nixa, Montana, 2006

A sinkhole in Nixa, Montana in August 2006 ended up swallowing nearly all of the home belonging to local resident Norman Scrivener. The hole began by devouring the garage, then Scrivener's car, and finally half of the property.

AP Photo/The Courier-Times Telegraph, Kenneth Dean
13 of 15 To full screen

Tyler, Texas, 2007

The car belonging to the Reverend Ralph Massey fell into a sinkhole in a car park in Tyler, Texas in August 2007. Massey later said he'd pulled into a car park to turn around, when the ground gave way without warning. The car came to rest with most of its front section in the hole, and the back end and both rear wheels elevated. Massey was able to scramble out of the hole, which ended up being about 12 feet wide and six feet deep.

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
14 of 15 To full screen

Hawaii, 2006

A tremor that hit Hawaii in October 2006 measured 6.7 on the Richter scale and created a sinkhole that threatened the home of local resident Richard Horita.

AP Photo/The Beaumont Enterprise, Dave Ryan
15 of 15 To full screen

Daisetta, Texas, 2008

A massive sinkhole as long as two football fields and up to 100 feet deep opened up near Daisetta, Texas in May 2008.