US & Canada

Florida sinkhole: Search for Jeffrey Bush called off

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionHeavy machinery will be brought in to demolish the house

Rescue teams in Florida have called off their efforts to recover the body of a man swallowed by a huge sinkhole under his home.

Jeffrey Bush, 36, who is presumed dead, disappeared into the sinkhole that engulfed his bedroom while he slept on Thursday night.

The house, in the suburbs of Tampa, will be destroyed, officials said.

Sinkholes are common in certain parts of Florida, although most are quite small.

"At this point it's really not possible to recover the body," Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said.

He added: "We are dealing with a very unusual sinkhole."

Experts are trying to ascertain how far the underground cavity reaches and whether more homes are at risk. Nearby houses have all been evacuated.

Early estimates put it at 20ft (6m) deep and 30ft in diameter but officials have created a 100ft-wide safety zone fearing the top of the sinkhole is growing.

Neighbour Soliris Gonzalez, 31, said: "I've had nightmares. In my dreams I keep checking for cracks in the house."

Image caption Jeremy Bush laid flowers by the house in memory of his brother, Jeffrey

Mr Bush's tearful brother, Jeremy, laid flowers and a stuffed toy near the house on Saturday.

He was in the house on Thursday night and heard his brother scream as the concrete floor under the bedroom gave way.

Mr Bush rushed into his brother's room and jumped into the hole to try to save him but had to be rescued himself by police.

Mr Bush told reporters that someone had visited the four-bedroom house some weeks ago to check for sinkholes and other issues but found nothing wrong.

"And a couple of months later, my brother dies. In a sinkhole," he said.

Florida state law requires home insurers to provide coverage against sinkholes.

Experts say much of Florida sits on a system of limestone caverns which are subject to water erosion, causing them to collapse.

More on this story