Sinkhole opens under Florida resort complex

Hotel building over sinkhole in Clermont, Florida, on 12 August 2013

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A resort complex in Florida has partially fallen into a sinkhole, the latest such incident in the state.

All 105 people staying at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, near Disney World, were safely evacuated when the ground gave way on Sunday night.

By Monday morning, nearly a third of the complex had collapsed into a sinkhole up to 100ft (30m) in diameter.

Much of Florida straddles a system of limestone caverns that are subject to water erosion, causing them to cave in.

In March, a sinkhole beneath a house in the suburbs of Tampa, swallowed a man who was in his bed. His body was never recovered.

The state requires home insurers to provide coverage against sinkholes.

'Pops'

The 15ft (5m) deep sinkhole at the Summer Bay Resort swallowed a villa with 24 three-storey units, and endangered two other villas.

Start Quote

People were in shock to see a structure of that size just sink into the ground slowly”

End Quote Amy Jedele Resident of adjacent villa

Residents first reported something untoward at about 22:30 on Sunday (02:30 GMT on Monday), when the villa's windows began to blow, security guard Richard Shanley told the Associated Press.

The resort's staff subsequently decided to evacuate the villa.

Mr Shanley said the building then began to sink, while banisters fell down as he climbed the stairs to warn residents by knocking on their doors.

Amy Jedele, who was staying in one of the adjacent villas, said: "You could hear the pops and the metal, the concrete and the glass breaking."

"You could see the ground falling away from the building where the building started leaning," she told AP. "People were in shock to see a structure of that size just sink into the ground slowly."

Over the next five hours, the villa split into several parts and collapsed into the sinkhole.

"My heart sunk," resort president Paul Caldwell told reporters. "No doubt there would've been injuries if they hadn't gotten the building evacuated."

Mr Caldwell said there had been no signs of a sinkhole developing before Sunday, and that the ground had undergone geological testing when it was built 15 years ago and been declared stable.

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