A large sinkhole opened up at the Gateway Plaza in Ocala, Florida late June 10, 2017, after heavy rains hit the region. The hole swallowed pavement and a car whose occupants managed to escape without injuries.
The sinkhole opened near the intersection of Southwest 27th Avenue and State Road 200 and measures 8 x 8 x 8 m (25 x 25 x 25 feet). Video of the event shows a car with an elderly couple inside the vehicle escaping before it was claimed by the sinkhole. Their car was removed on Sunday.
The hole also ruptured a gas line, forcing authorities to evacuate the area and close nearby businesses. Firefighters were able to secure the gas line and no injuries were reported.
An Ocala city official said Sunday it appears that the limerock under the parking lot's drainage system eroded after heavy rain and flooding, causing it to collapse and form a hole.
A second, smaller sinkhole formed Sunday along the edge of a retention basin just north of the Goodwill Superstore on Southwest 27 Avenue in Ocala. Police responded to the report and marked off the hole by crime tape.
Over the past two weeks, Florida has been battered by waves of heavy rainfall, in places record-breaking, that pulled the entire state out of extreme drought conditions.
However, even without the recent extreme rainfall, Florida has more sinkholes that any other US state. Since almost the entire state is underlain by carbonate rocks (limestone and dolostone), overlain by variable thicknesses and mixtures of sand and clay, sinkholes could theoretically form anywhere.
Featured image: Sinkhole opens in Ocala, Florida, swallowing a car and rupturing gas line - June 10, 2017. Credit: Ocala Fire and Rescue