Rescue halted as sinkhole swallows man in house

Engineers work in front of a home where a sinkhole opened up underneath a bedroom and swallowed a man. Picture: AP

Engineers work in front of a home where a sinkhole opened up underneath a bedroom and swallowed a man. Picture: AP

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THE search for a man believed to have been swallowed up by a sinkhole has been called off as rescuers said the house in which the man was last seen was too dangerous for rescuers to continue working in.

• Man believed dead after falling in sinkhole while in house

Jeff Bush: Believed to have died. Picture: AP

Jeff Bush: Believed to have died. Picture: AP

• House to be demolished as search called off for Jeff Bush

Jeff Bush is thought to have died after his bedroom began to submerge into the ground.

Rescue workers said they feared that the sinkhole could eventually claim the entire house, and that prolonged efforts to search for Mr Bush would endanger them.

“Our data has come back, and there is absolutely no way we can do any kind of recovery without endangering lives of workers,” said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico.

Friends and relatives grieve outside the home. Picture: AP

Friends and relatives grieve outside the home. Picture: AP

The property is due to be demolished, although crews will attempt to pull parts of the house away from the sinkhole so personal belongings can be retrieved.

Mr Bush, 37, is presumed dead after a sinkhole, estimated to be six metres wide and six metres deep, opened up in his bedroom.

Five other people were in the house at the time of the incident but managed to escape unharmed.

Nearby residents were evacuated from their homes as engineers tested the ground surrounding the house.

Limestone caverns, which dissolve in water, are common in Florida and are responsible for sinkholes.

The phenomenon is so common in the US state that home insurers are legally obliged to provide cover against it.

Mr Bush’s brother Jeremy said someone had visited the property two months prior to the incident to check for sinkholes.

“He said there was nothing wrong with the house. Nothing. And a couple of months later, my brother dies. In a sinkhole,” he said.

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