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Large sinkhole opens in downtown Ottawa, gas leak prompts evacuations, Canada

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A large sinkhole has opened up near the corner of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive in downtown Ottawa, Canada a few hours ago, June 8, 2016, causing a gas leak and shutting down the Rideau Street. At least one vehicle was swallowed by the growing hole. The Rideau Centre shopping mall and the Westin Hotel were evacuated.

Officers are on the scene directing traffic, but Ottawa Police Const. Marc Soucy advised people to follow the City of Ottawa for updates as repairs get underway. Buses were being rerouted, National Post reports.

"Twitter exploded with pictures of the sinkhole and reports of the “foul” smell of gas. The collapse occurred shortly after 10:00 [14:00 UTC] and soon spread across all four lanes of Rideau Street between the Rideau Centre and Chapters, swallowing a dark van that had been parked outside Chapters. Hydro Ottawa was reporting a power outage in the area of Rideau, Besserer, Nicholas, Wellington and Sussex affecting 851 customers. Crews were responding with the cause under investigation," the NP article said.

As of 15:30 UTC, there are no reports of injuries.

At this time, it is unknown what caused the sinkhole. Mayor Jim Watson said all hands are on deck to make sure the site is secured, and no harm is done to any individual.

The mayor added it was too early to tell if the collapse was related to tunneling activity.

Digging associated with the rail transit system was linked to an eight-metre wide sinkhole that appeared in 2014 just a few blocks over from the site of this sinkhole.

Featured image: Ottawa sinkhole, June 8, 2016. Credit: Mitch (via Twitter)

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