A huge sinkhole opened up in downtown Fukuoka, disrupting traffic and power supply across the city. Authorities said the cave-in could cause buildings to collapse and evacuated nearby areas.
The hole opened up at 05:15 JST on November 8 (20:15 UTC, November 7) at an intersection near Hakata Station in the capital of the prefecture, causing massive damage.
It gradually became bigger and measured 20 m (65 feet) by 09:00 JST.
The city evacuated buildings near the site at 09:45 JST, according to The Japan Times, saying there were signs the cave-in could cause buildings to collapse.
Police urge nearby households not to use gas, fearing gas leaks.
At 12:20 JST, the hole was about 27 m (88 feet) wide, about 30 m (98 feet) long and about 15 m (49 feet) deep.
The Fukuoka City Transportation Bureau said that a construction work to extend the Nanakuma Line of the city’s subway system was under way about 25 m (82 feet) below the site at the time of the event. The construction workers reported water outflow and other phenomena shortly before the occurrence of the sinkhole and evacuated from the site.
"It was a bit dark outside, and my first impression was, 'Is the road really falling?'" a young man who saw the sinkhole form told public broadcaster NHK. "When I saw it, two holes were already there, and they continued to grow bigger.
"I got scared the most when a traffic light fell at an intersection close to where I was standing. I felt, 'I have to get out of here.'"
This is the second sinkhole to open in downtown Fukuoka since 2014 when about 3 m (10 feet) of a road caved in, reportedly due to sewage construction works.
Fukuoka's railway station is a major intersection, including for the superfast bullet trains that criss-cross the country.
There are no reports of injuries. The investigation is in progress.
Featured image: Huge sinkhole opens in downtown Fukuoka, Japan - November 7, 2016. Credit: Kyodo