A giant sinkhole swallowed a stretch of street on Mexico City’s east side, with one man feared dead and 30 families evacuated, authorities said Monday.
Even in a city where historic buildings regularly lean, crack, collapse or sink below sidewalk level due to excessive water extraction and unstable soil, the 45-foot-deep sinkhole — which measures about 15 yards in diameter — came as a shock.
It began as a giant crack late Saturday in the eastern Iztapalapa borough and rapidly worsened. The ground collapsed, swallowing a car, the facade of a one-story brick building and pavement.
A young man who was watching the spectacle also fell in, and emergency workers were digging with hand tools to try to recover his body, authorities said. His age was not immediately known.
“It is very highly unlikely” that the victim could still be found alive, said Mexico City Civil Defense Secretary Elias Moreno. “But as long as that possibility exists, we are digging very carefully to avoid hurting him if he is alive.”
Fissures from the sinkhole extend outward for about 500 yards, raising the danger of additional collapses. Thirty families that live near those cracks were taken to shelters.
Moreno said are using cement to try to fill about 200 other cracks, fissures and sinkholes in Iztapalapa.
He blamed them on the city’s triple problem of earthquakes, which cause cracks; the excessive extraction of ground water, which causes sinking, and heavy torrential rains, which make surface soil more likely to collapse.
Mexico City sinks an average of 3 to 4 inches each year.