Friday 9 December 2016

Massive sinkhole devours entire city street - and continues to grow

Elaine Lies

Published 08/11/2016 | 09:08

A huge sinkhole is seen at an intersection near Hakata station in Fukuoka, Japan, November 8, 2016 in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. THIS IMAGE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY, AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
A huge sinkhole is seen at an intersection near Hakata station in Fukuoka, Japan, November 8, 2016 in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. THIS IMAGE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY, AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
A massive shinkhole is created in the middle of the business district in Fukuoka, southern Japan Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Parts of a main street have collapsed in the city, creating a huge sinkhole and cutting off power, water and gas supplies to parts of the city. Authorities said no injuries were reported from Tuesday's pre-sunrise collapse in downtown Fukuoka. (Kyodo News via AP)
A massive shinkhole is created in the middle of the business district in Fukuoka, southern Japan Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Parts of a main street have collapsed in the city, creating a huge sinkhole and cutting off power, water and gas supplies to parts of the city. Authorities said no injuries were reported from Tuesday's pre-sunrise collapse in downtown Fukuoka. (Kyodo News via AP)
A massive shinkhole is created in the middle of the business district in Fukuoka, southern Japan Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Parts of a main street have collapsed in the city, creating a huge sinkhole and cutting off power, water and gas supplies to parts of the city. Authorities said no injuries were reported from Tuesday's pre-sunrise collapse in downtown Fukuoka. (Kyodo News via AP)
A massive shinkhole is created in the middle of the business district in Fukuoka, southern Japan Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. Parts of a main street have collapsed in the city, creating a huge sinkhole and cutting off power, water and gas supplies to parts of the city. Authorities said no injuries were reported from Tuesday's pre-sunrise collapse in downtown Fukuoka. (Kyodo News via AP)

A sinkhole devoured a substantial stretch of a Japanese street on Tuesday, sending stoplights and sidewalks tumbling more than 10 metres (33 ft) as the earth crumbled, snarling transport and disrupting power supply at an international airport.

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Nobody was injured when the sinkhole opened with a boom before dawn in Fukuoka, but several multi-storey commercial buildings teetered dangerously at the edge of the abyss as it grew.

By afternoon, the hole was 30 metres (98 ft) long and 15 meters (49 ft) deep, swallowing an entire four-lane intersection, and appeared to still be growing.

"I saw a stoplight fall. It was really scary," one man told Fuji TV.

Television footage showed burst water mains spewing a torrent of muddy water into the hole, which city officials said was probably caused by subway construction in the city of some 1.5 million, roughly 900 km (563 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

Online services for some banks were disrupted and power outages briefly hit 800 households as well as Fukuoka International Airport, a hub for flights from Asia, but there were no reports of flight delays.

"All pedestrians avoid this area," a policeman with a loudhailer said. "We are checking for gas leaks, so please don't light your cigarettes."

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