A giant sinkhole has opened up in the car park of a hospital in southern Italy, swallowing up several cars, and forcing the evacuation of a nearby COVID-19 ward.
The hole, which was about 22,000 square feet across and 66 feet deep, appeared outside Ospedale del Mare hospital in Naples in the early hours of Friday.
Some patients and staff reported hearing a large explosion at dawn, which they initially thought was the result of nearby Mount Vesuvius erupting, the Independent reported.
Vincenzo De Luca, the governor of Italy’s southwestern Campania region in which Naples is the main city, said he had breathed “a sigh of relief” when he was told no one had been hurt or killed, according to AP.
Nobody was injured and only three cars were swallowed in the otherwise empty parking lot, the local fire brigade said, according to the Associated Press.
However, the collapse resulted in the nearby hospital experiencing water and electricity outage, prompting officials to evacuate six patients from their COVID-19 ward. These services have since been restored.
🔴 #Napoli, prosegue l’intervento dei #vigilidelfuoco nel parcheggio dell’Ospedale del Mare per escludere la presenza di persone coinvolte nella #voragine che si è aperta stamattina intorno alle 7. Sul posto i nuclei cinofili [#8gennaio 9:30] pic.twitter.com/ybfpwJKfAU
— Vigili del Fuoco (@emergenzavvf) January 8, 2021
Italian Fire Brigade Provincial Commander, Ennio Aquiliano, told Sky News that he believes the collapse could have been caused by an infiltration of water underground from the recent heavy rains.
“The rainwater in recent days has almost certainly caused infiltrations that led to the collapse. There will be further technical checks but this is the main hypothesis,” Aquiliano said.
In May last year, a sinkhole unexpectedly opened up in front of the Pantheon in Rome, revealing ancient paving stones that were laid from 27 B.C. to 25 B.C, according to Live Science.
Luckily, no one was hurt in the usually-packed piazza because it was at the height of the coronavirus lockdown.
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