A large sinkhole appeared in late May at a farm in central Mexico. The hole has grown larger than a football field. Now it has swallowed a house and trapped animals in its depths. And it’s still growing.
The sinkhole in the town of Zacatepec in Puebla state, east of Mexico City, is now over 400 feet across in some places. At its deepest point, it may be 150 feet to the bottom. Measuring the depth is difficult, because water keeps filling the crater.
The Mexican government has erected metal barriers and draped police tape around the hole. Soldiers are keeping people 2,000 feet from the edge of the mostly 50-foot-deep void. Government officials have also restricted the flying of drones over it.
Loose soil at the edges keeps collapsing into the water within the pit.
“It’s a very hard time for us. It hurts, because this is all that we have,” says Magdalena Xalamigua Xopillacle. Her brick-and-cinderblock house has slowly collapsed into the sinkhole. “At times we feel sick from so much sadness.”
The government of the central Mexico state of Puebla managed to pull two dogs out of the sinkhole. The pups had been trapped for about four days on a ledge on the sheer sides of the hole dropping 50 feet to water. Concerned observers contacted authorities for help—after all, “A righteous person has regard for the life of his animal.” (Proverbs 12:10)
The dogs, named Spay and Spike, were apparently playing in the farm field surrounding the sinkhole when they fell in. At first, it was too dangerous to try to rescue the animals.
Eventually, a firefighter descended into the pit, using a ladder to brace the soil on the edge. His colleagues stood farther back. They used ropes and a pulley to haul up cages carrying the canines. Both survived their ordeal with the help of local veterinarians.
Some residents believe the sinkhole is the result of excessive ground water extraction by factories. Others blame a water bottling plant in the area. However, the bottom of the hole is filled with water that seems to have strong currents. The flowing water makes experts think something like an underground river may have caused the hole naturally.
“It is highly probable that the origin is associated with the presence of subterranean water flows,” the national civil defense office says.
Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa says experts are studying all possibilities. If water removal is the culprit, he would cancel any permits for factories.
Citing a risk of further ground ruptures, officials are warning people to stay away from the sinkhole site in Zacatepec. They say, “This is not a tourist attraction or a place to visit with your family.”
(A water-filled sinkhole grows on a farming field in Zacatapec, Mexico, on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. AP/Pablo Spencer)