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Building Sinks, Collapses at FL Resort

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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A massive sinkhole opened beneath a Florida resort near Walt Disney World, causing a three-story building to partially collapse early Monday.

No injuries were reported, though dozens of guests were evacuated.

Several guests at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, FL, felt the building shake, heard loud noises and window cracking around 11 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 11), news reports said Monday.

Vacation villa sinkhole
Lake County Fire Rescue via NBC News

A three-story vacation villa in Clermont, FL, collapsed Monday when a sinkhole spanning about 50 feet in diameter opened up. No injuries were reported.

About 35 people were evacuated before the sinkhole swallowed up 30 percent of one building and began weakening another structure, according to reports citing Lake County Fire Rescue officials.

Five months ago, a sinkhole opened up underneath a home in Seffner, FL, swallowing a man in his bed, reports note.

Building ‘Breaking in Half’

Reports varied regarding the size of the crater at Summer Bay, though many say it was between 40 to 60 feet wide and 10 to 15 feet deep.

The sinkhole was located near the middle of the villa, beneath a central elevator shaft connected by breezeways to two apartment blocks, Lake County Fire Rescue’s Battalion Chief Special Operations Tony Cuellar told reporters around 3 a.m. Monday.

Vacation villa collapse
Lake County Fire Rescue via NBC News

Rescue crews evacuated about 35 people, reports said. Authorities expressed concern about a second building sinking at the site early Monday.

“The building on the west side… a portion of that structure just collapsed. It’s literally breaking in half,” Cuellar told NBC News.  

“It’s not expanding outward, so we’re just watching it to see if it’s sinking downward."

Witnesses: Leaning and Sinking

A witness told the Associated Press that he could see the building leaning and a big crack at the base around 11:30 p.m.

Another witness and guest at the resort, Maggie Ghamry, told ABC’s Good Morning America, that she felt shaking and glass breaking. She first attributed the noise to kids running down the hall.

“Next thing I know, people are yelling ‘get out of the building, get out of the building,’” she said.

Summer Bay

Summer Bay is described as a luxurious resort that houses standard, premium, one- and two-bedroom condominiums; two-bedroom villas; and vacation homes, according to its website.

The resort is six miles from Walt Disney World Resort.

Summer Bay did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Sinkhole Prone State

Sinkholes are common in Florida, because the state sits atop limestone, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Brian Stansberry / Wikimedia Commons

Sinkholes are a common feature in Florida's landscape, the Department of Environmental Protection says. Most are small and do not cause injuries.

The porous carbonate rock and the persistent erosional process have created extensive underground voids and drainage systems throughout the state. Collapse of overlying sediments into the underground cavities produce sinkholes, the department said.

Reports indicate that most sinkholes are small and do not result in fatalities or injuries.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Building design; Commercial Construction; Disasters; Health and safety; Maintenance + Renovation

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