Sink­hole swal­lows up Florida lake­side re­sort

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Cler­mont, Florida

Dozens of guests at a Florida re­sort near Walt Dis­ney World were safely evac­u­ated in the mid­dle of the night on Mon­day when a large sink­hole opened on the prop­erty, swal­low­ing a three- story build­ing.

“I was hear­ing pop­ping noises and I was hear­ing peo­ple scream­ing and glass break­ing. The build­ing ac­tu­ally twisted and sep­a­rated,” Sum­mer Bay Re­sort se­cu­rity guard Richard Shanley said. “It was like some­thing from a movie.”

Shanley was driv­ing a golf cart on the Or­lando- area re­sort’s main boule­vard when a fam­ily hailed him to say they heard pop­ping sounds and that some­thing was wrong.

A spokesman for the Lake County Fire Depart­ment said there were no in­juries in the col­lapse and that re­sort staff re­sponded quickly to the first signs of dan­ger.

Paul Cald­well, gen­eral man­ager of the 64-acre, lake­side re­sort, said the build­ing col­lapsed al­most en­tirely within 45 min­utes, leav­ing only the top floor vis­i­ble at ground level. He es­ti­mated the sink­hole to be 30 me­ters wide.

Shanley, whom Cald­well called “a hero”, said he saw bal­conies break­ing. He rushed into the build­ing and be­gan bang­ing on doors, us­ing his mas­ter key to open some doors and wake peo­ple so they could get out.

He said that while he was on the sec­ond floor, he felt the build­ing sink about 20 inches and saw the ceil­ings col­laps­ing. By the time Shanley was on the third floor, he said that floor’s ceil­ing had en­tirely col­lapsed.

Shanl ey kept go­ing through the build­ing un­til the fire depart­ment ar­rived and made him leave.

Asked if he felt his life was ever at risk, Shanley said, “Yes ma’am, but I didn’t think of that at the time. I was more con­cerned about my guests and try­ing to get them out of there.”

Thirty- six peo­ple were evac­u­ated, in­clud­ing 20 from the col­lapsed build­ing and 16 from an­other build­ing emp­tied as a pre­cau­tion, ac­cord­ing to the re­sort’s ex­ec­u­tive vice- pres­i­dent Juan Bar­ril­las.

Cald­well praised Shanley for not wait­ing for au­tho­riza­tion be­fore evac­u­at­ing guests. “Had he not acted on his own, we are con­fi­dent there could have been many peo­ple trapped in that build­ing.”

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