Perhaps one of the most frightening freak disasters to ever happen in an urban setting is the dreaded sinkhole. Movies and even TV shows often make a scary deal out of it when you see a perfectly fine stretch of road, or a flat surface like a parking lot, suddenly fall into a sudden depression in the ground with plenty of property damage and the occasional loss of life. The causes also happen to be variable, so they tend to be unpredictable. And now one is causing a hell of a stir over in Japan.
The Japan Times reports that on the morning of Tuesday November 8, the city of Fukuoka in the southernmost main Japanese island of Kyushu was thrown into chaos by the abrupt appearance of a large-scale sinkhole downtown. A main intersection near the city’s Japan Railways Hakata Station just up and vanished into a deep depression filled with asphalt fragments, steel scaffolding, subterranean electrical wiring and gas pipelines. Fortunately according to the police and city office, no death or injuries have been reported at the site, nor were any vehicle traffic caught up in the sinkhole due to it happening at 5:15 AM Tokyo Time.
A witness interviewed by the Kyodo News Agency described the beginning of the sinkhole: ““The electricity went off suddenly and I heard a loud boom…I went outside and saw a huge hole.” A salary- man from a nearby office added, “The road has collapsed near my office and now I can’t go to work because we’ve been told to evacuate.” Among the people working in adjoining buildings who have fled the enlarging sinkhole were staffers from a 7-Eleven store now situated right at the edge of the depression.
It has been noted that the sinkhole’s size was gradually increasing all morning, for as of 9 AM it had reached a rough radius of 20 meters. Due to some underground power lines being cut by the collapse, some parts of Fukuoka were affected by blackouts, although quick rerouting was able to restore electrical service, cutting down the number of individual households without power from 800 to only 170 by 9:20 AM.
While no definitive reason for the sinkhole’s appearance has been verified, city officials suspect that the roadway may have been weakened significantly by nearby construction efforts to extend the city’s Nanakuma subway line. The city of Fukuoka is the capital of the Japanese prefecture of the same name.
Photo Credit to http://www.straitstimes.com/