MEXICO CITY (AP) – A large sinkhole that appeared in late May on a farm in central Mexico grew larger than a football field, began to swallow a house and trapped two dogs in its depths.
Puebla’s central state government said Thursday evening it had managed to get the two dogs out of the abyss, after emotional requests from animal lovers to save them. They had been trapped for about four days on a ledge on the steep walls of the hole, falling 50 feet (15 meters) into the water.
Because the loose soil around the edges continues to sink into the water at the bottom of the pit, for days it was considered too dangerous to try to save the animals.
But on Thursday, a firefighter descended into the pit, in part using a ladder to stabilize the ground on the edge. His colleagues were seen further back using ropes and a pulley system to hoist cages carrying the two dogs.
The state government has distributed pictures of the dogs, named Spay and Spike, appearing alert and in the care of vets. The dogs were apparently playing in the farm field surrounding the sinkhole when they fell into it.
The sinkhole is now over 400 feet (125 meters) in diameter in some places and can reach 150 meters (45 meters) in depth at its deepest point. It’s hard to tell, as the water fills the crater.
The Mexican government sent soldiers to keep people 2,000 feet (600 meters) from the edge of the hole, which is 50 feet (15 meters) deep.
“It’s a very difficult time for us. It hurts, because that’s all we have, ”said Magdalena Xalamigua Xopillacle, whose brick and cinder block house was slowly collapsing into the abyss. “Sometimes we feel sick because of so much sadness.”
Some residents believe the sinkhole is the result of excessive groundwater extraction by factories or a water bottling plant in the area. But the bottom of the hole is filled with water that appears to have strong currents, and the National Civil Defense Office said experts believe it was caused by something like an underground river.
“It is highly likely that the origin is associated with the presence of groundwater flow,” the office said.
Puebla governor Miguel Barbosa said experts were looking at both possibilities and if water extraction was involved he would cancel any permits.
Citing a risk of further fractures in the ground, the office warned people to stay away from the site in Zacatepec town, in Puebla state, east of Mexico City.
“This is not a tourist attraction or a place to visit with your family,” the office said Wednesday. Authorities installed metal barriers and police tape to prevent onlookers from entering and restricted the flight of drones overhead.
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