A large “sinkhole” opened in a new IHOP restaurant parking lot in Meridian, Mississippi, over the weekend, swallowing as many as 12 cars, according to CNN affiliate WTOK.
The asphalt gave way Saturday evening, leaving a huge hole estimated to be about 35-feet wide, 375-feet long and 30-feet deep, authorities said.
Emergency officials roped off the area to keep people away, WTOK reported. There were no reports of injuries.
Mayor Percy Bland said the cave-in appears to be over the site of a former city culvert, according to WTOK. Crews will begin trying to remove some of the cars Monday, the mayor added.
While the event was first blamed on a sinkhole, Dr. Greg Easson of the University of Mississippi’s Geology and Geological Engineering Department said that’s not accurate. Easson told CNN sinkholes are the result of a natural process involving the erosion of limestone bedrock due to underground water movement, but what occurred in Meridian was the collapse of a culvert or underwater drain due to the new construction in the area.
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