Tropical storm Agatha, the first named storm of the 2010 Pacific season, slammed into Guatemala and neighbouring El Salvador at the weekend, dumping more than three feet of rain in the region. The enormous crater appeared while the city was being ravaged with high winds, torrential rain and deadly mudslides.
The 2007 Guatemala sinkhole swallowed multiple homes. (Photo Credit: CC BY/horslips5/Flickr)

Agence France-Presse reports that 65-year-old Guatemala City widow Inocenta Hernandez awoke late Monday to the sound of what she thought was an exploding cooking gas canister. After closer inspection, Hernandez discovered that a sinkhole had opened up directly underneath her bed. The sinkhole measured 40 feet deep and 32 inches in diameter.

Sinkholes common in Guatemala

While Hernandez’ bedroom sinkhole was frightening, it was by no means a unique occurrence in Guatemala. In 2007, a giant sinkhole 330 feet deep swallowed homes and vehicles and killed three people. Days of evacuation were required. According to Gather, Guatemala City experiences frequent sinkholes after tropical storms. Because the city is built on volcanic deposits and has leaky sewer systems, it is particularly prone to sinkholes.

Hernandez thought the noise came from outside

Inocenta Hernandez and her grandchildren went outside to investigate the noise. She figured it was either a gas canister explosion or a traffic accident.

“We rushed out to look and saw nothing,” she told Guatemala City reporters. “A gentleman told me that the noise came from my house, and we searched until we found it under my bed.”

No one was injured by the sinkhole under the bed, although Hernandez will likely have to move to a new house. She told local police that she was thankful that the damages were only material.

“Thank God there are only material damages because my grandchildren were running around the house, into that room and out to the patio,” she said.

Understanding sinkholes

Wikipedia says sinkholes are natural depressions in the Earth’s surface that occur because of karst processes (chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks) and suffosion (when loose soil falls through fissures in underground limestone and sandstone beds). They vary in size from 3 to 2,000 feet in diameter and depth and typically form without warning.

Guatemalans know sinkholes

Sources

AFP: http://bit.ly/pmwLtE

Gather.com: http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474979688660

Inquisitr: http://www.inquisitr.com/127974/sinkhole-opens-up-under-guatemalan-womans-bed/

Sinkhole Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinkhole

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