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Large earth fissure opens in Northern Cape, South Africa

earth-fissure-northern-cape-south-africa-january-2017

A large earth fissure has opened up between the cities of Daniëlskuil and Kuruman in Northern Cape, South Africa after heavy rains hit the region at the beginning of the month. The fissure is still growing and is nearing dangerously close to the R31 road between the two cities, which is now officially closed.

The crack was discovered on January 6, 2017, during heavy rains and floods in which at least 7 people lost their lives. As of Friday, January 13, it was about 300 m (980 feet) long and 30 m (98 feet) deep. It is located about 55 km (34 miles) south of Kuruman. 

The map shows an approximate location of a large earth fissure on Mount Carmel Farm, Northern Cape, South Africa.

According to the SABC, the fissure has opened on Mount Carmel Farm, no stranger to such formations, 'but this monster hole beats them all. Water continues to flow into it, even creating a waterfall.'

The Department of Roads and Public Works in the Northern Cape said Friday the road between Daniëlskuil and Kuruman is closed.

"The closure is due to a natural sinkhole… that has been increasing in size since Saturday [January 7], thus nearing the border of the road. Motorists are requested to use the detour road via Postmasburg, R385," said Crystal Robertson in the notice.

There are reports that the road is not fully closed, or some motorists are ignoring the signs. This could be a huge problem during night hours as the crack is still growing.

"The situation is very, very bad. If the government is not willing to resolve this problem, it can happen to anyone when passing here in the night because there are a lot of people who don't know what's happening here," one of the many panic-stricken road users told SABC.

This region is known for its karst topography, a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves.

The Boesmansgat sinkhole (also known as "Bushman's Hole"), one of the world's deepest freshwater cave dive sites, is located about 9 km (5.6 miles) to the north.

Featured image: Large earth crack opens in Northern Cape, South Africa – January 2017. Credit: Hendrik van Hunks Photography

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