ENGINEERS resumed work at a Florida sinkhole yesterday, undertaking more tests on the unstable and dangerous ground that swallowed a man in his bedroom.
They have determined that the soil in the slowly growing sinkhole around the home is soft and believe the entire house could eventually be devoured.
Jeff Bush, 37, was presumed dead on Friday after the earth opened under his bedroom, swallowing him up. All that remained was a TV cable running down into the hole.
Sinkholes are a hazard so common in Florida that state law requires home insurers to provide coverage against the danger.
The sinkhole, estimated at 20 feet across and 20 feet deep, caused the property’s concrete floor to cave in. It gave way with a loud crash and brought Bush’s brother running. Jeremy Bush said he jumped into the hole but couldn’t see his brother and had to be rescued by a sheriff’s deputy who pulled him to safety.
“The floor was still giving in and the dirt was still going down, but I didn’t care. I wanted to save my brother,” Jeremy Bush said. “But I couldn’t do nothing. I could swear I heard him hollering my name to help him.”
Officials lowered equipment into the hole but saw no signs of life, a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman said. County administrator Mike Merrill described the home as “seriously unstable”. He said no one could go in because officials were afraid of another collapse and losing more lives.
Engineers said they may have to demolish the house, even though from the outside there appeared to be nothing wrong with the four-bedroom, concrete-wall structure, built in 1974.
Florida is prone to sinkholes because there are caverns below ground of limestone, a porous rock that easily dissolves in water. A sinkhole near Orlando grew to 400 feet across in 1981 and devoured five cars, two businesses, a three-bedroom house and the deep end of a swimming pool.