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Watch: Giant sinkhole at Mexico farm swallows family home

Aerial view of a giant sinkhole on June 9, 2021 in Santa María Zacatepec, Mexico. The giant sinkhole is located 20 kilometers northwest from the capital city Puebla, and has damaged a house built near the place where it appeared. Farmers of the surroundings have been affected since they are not allowed to enter their fields due to the warning perimeter set up by the authorities.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

A large sinkhole that appeared in late May at a farm in central Mexico has grown larger than a football field, begun swallowing a house and trapped two dogs in its depths.

The government of the central state of Puebla responded on Thursday to emotional requests from animal lovers to try to rescue the two dogs, who are trapped on a ledge on the sheer sides of the hole dropping 15 meters to water.

 

Because the loose soil at the edges keeps collapsing into the water at the bottom of the pit, it would be dangerous to try to rescue the animals. But officials said they have been throwing food down to the two pups, who are named Spay and Spike.

“In a responsible way, the rescue of Spay and Spike, who fell into the sinkhole in Santa María Zacatepec, is being analysed,” the state government said in a statement. “Despite the risky conditions and taking all precautions, the dogs have been fed.”

Pressure built on officials to do something. The dogs, which were apparently playing in the farm field surrounding the sinkhole, fell in about four days ago.

A non-profit animal rescue squad volunteered to attempt to bring the dogs up. The unit proposed sending a rescuer down on a rope and said the animals might have to be tranquilised so that they could be caught and pulled up.

The sinkhole is now over 125 meters across in some places, and may be 45 meters at its deepest point. It is hard to tell, because water fills the crater.

The Mexican government has sent in soldiers to keep people 600 meters away from the edge of the hole, which is 15 meters deep.

“It’s a very hard time for us. It hurts, because this is all that we have,” said Magdalena Xalamigua Xopillacle, whose brick and cinderblock house was slowly collapsing into the sinkhole. “At times we feel sick from so much sadness.”

Some residents believe the sinkhole is the result of excessive ground water extraction by factories or a water bottling plant in the area. But the bottom of the hole is filled with water that appears to have strong currents, and the national civil defense office said experts think it was caused by something like an underground river.

“It is highly probable that the origin is associated with the presence of subterranean water flows,” the office said.

Puebla Gov. Miguel Barbosa said experts are studying both possibilities, and if water extraction is the culprit, he would cancel any permits.

Citing a risk of further ground fractures, the office warned people to stay away from the site in the town of Zacatepec in Puebla state, east of Mexico City.

“This is not a tourist attraction, or a place to visit with your family,” the office said on Wednesday.

Authorities have set up metal barriers and police tape to keep onlookers out, and has restricted flying drones over it.


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Printable version | Jun 23, 2021 2:37:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/sinkhole-at-mexico-farm-swallows-more-land-eats-at-house/article34786359.ece

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