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Sinkhole Swallows Homes Florida



A sinkhole in Florida that swallowed two houses appears to have stopped expanding, meaning a recovery-and-repair operation can begin, authorities said.


The sinkhole, estimated to be 225 feet in diameter and 50 feet deep, apparently began beneath a boat, which fell into the widening depression.


The active sinkhole is full of water and not draining because of debris, said Kevin Guthrie, Pasco County's assistant administrator for public safety. It also looks like it's full of household chemicals and septic tank parts. "It is probably a good thing that this sinkhole has actually been stopped up," he told reporters on Saturday. "There are a lot of contaminants in this water. It will allow us to decontaminate the area and clear the debris out."


The sinkhole grew 25 feet to 30 feet per hour at first, then slowed to 10 feet per hour. People who live in some other houses at risk have removed some possessions and pets.


Authorities have not said what caused this sinkhole. Pasco County records show the houses were built on the site of a sinkhole. Sinkholes often form when acidic rainwater dissolves limestone or similar rock beneath the soil, leaving a large void that collapses when it's no longer able to support the weight of what's above it, whether an open field, a road or a house.

Sinkholes are particularly common in Florida, which rests on a nearly unbroken bed of limestone, according to the Florida Sinkhole Research Institute. They often develop in Central Florida, including the Tampa area.