Giant sink­hole swal­lows part of Ja­pan street

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A giant sink­hole ap­peared in the mid­dle of a busy Ja­panese city yes­ter­day, swal­low­ing part of a five-lane street near the main rail­way sta­tion. The gap­ing hole, around 30 me­ters (98 feet) wide, ex­posed sup­port col­umns of nearby build­ings at a traf­fic in­ter­sec­tion in the south­ern city of Fukuoka, prompt­ing fears of fur­ther col­lapses.

TV footage showed two sep­a­rate holes steadily ex­pand­ing as they sucked in as­phalt and soil in front of the city’s Hakata Sta­tion, some­time af­ter 5am (2000 GMT Mon­day). “It was a bit dark out­side, and my first im­pres­sion was, ‘Is the road re­ally fall­ing?’” a young man who saw the sink­hole de­velop told pub­lic broad­caster NHK. “When I saw it, two holes were al­ready there, and they con­tin­ued to grow big­ger.

“I got scared the most when a traf­fic light fell at an in­ter­sec­tion close to where I was stand­ing. I felt, ‘I have to get out of here,’” he told NHK. The hole con­tin­ued to ex­pand and by af­ter­noon was around 15 me­ters deep, and fill­ing with water from bro­ken pipes. Po­lice, who had cor­doned off the area and evac­u­ated build­ings, said there had been no re­ports of any in­juries. Fukuoka’s mayor and trans­port bureau said the on­go­ing ex­ten­sion to a nearby sub­way line might have trig­gered the sink­hole. Con­struc­tion had to stop early morn­ing when work­ers saw ground water wash­ing into the site, shortly be­fore the road be­gan to cave in, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia. Fukuoka Mayor Soichiro Takashima told a press con­fer­ence the city was scram­bling to pre­vent fur­ther dam­age.

“We be­lieve the sub­way con­struc­tion had some im­pact,” he said. “A thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion will be car­ried out,” he added. Fukuoka is the big­gest city on the south­ern­most main Ja­panese is­land of Kyushu. Its rail­way sta­tion is a ma­jor in­ter­sec­tion, in­clud­ing for the su­per­fast bul­let trains that criss-cross the coun­try.— AFP

FUKUOKA: A giant sink­hole is seen in a five-lane ur­ban boule­vard, ex­pos­ing sup­port col­umns of nearby build­ings at a traf­fic in­ter­sec­tion in Fukuoka, south­west­ern Ja­pan yes­ter­day. —AFP

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