A massive sinkhole opened up in the middle of rush hour in China on Monday, swallowing a city bus and killing at least six people in an explosion that followed moments after the collapse.
The incident happened Monday afternoon in Xining, the capital city of Qinghai province in northwestern China.
Six people were killed, 15 were injured and another 10 people were listed as missing, state media reported. It’s unclear if all of the dead were on the bus, as several bystanders also fell in the hole.
Security camera footage from the incident shows people waiting to board the bus just before the sinkhole opens up. The ground suddenly buckles and traffic signs around the bus start to shake, then the vehicle’s front end tilts into a hole that suddenly emerges underneath it. Something explodes in the hole, and a cloud of smoke emerges from it just as bystanders start to flee. The hole expands even further to trap a few of them before they can get away.
Several witnesses tried to help the bus passengers but were forced to back off by the explosion, Chinese state media reported.
The city dispatched approximately 1,000 emergency workers and 30 vehicles to address the incident. They used a crane to remove the bus from the hole, which measured nearly 80 square metres (860 square feet) in area. Crews then used construction equipment to excavate the area around the collapse amid concerns of ruptured electrical or gas lines.
China has seen a rash of major sinkholes in recent years amid a push to build out its infrastructure so it can support a rapidly expanding economy. A sinkhole swallowed up three subway trains in Xiamen and another subway line fell into a hole in Guangzhou last month.
Sinkholes are often caused by natural erosion or acidic rainwater that weakens the sedimentary rock upon which subways and streets are often built. Mining can also cause shifts in the ground that later result in sinkholes.
Authorities are investigating the cause of Monday’s incident. The names of the victims have not been released.
— With files from Reuters and the Associated Press
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