Earth or is our home, our safe planet where, if nothing else, we can always rely on the laws of physics. It goes without saying that “peace on earth” means trusting that the ground we walk on will support us. The laws of gravity assured us of that much at least… or so we thought.
But sometimes that common faith is put to the test when the earth opens up and mercilessly swallows up bits of our so-called safe world. Weathermen can tell you when it’s going to rain, but no one can tell where or when a sinkhole will open up and take you down.
1. In February of 2007, what locals originally thought were the sounds of bombs exploding, turned out to be the ground falling out from under them. Terrified residents of Guatemala City watched as dozens of houses were swallowed into a 330-foot hole.
Authorities believe the sinkhole resulted from recent heavy rains and a ruptured sewage pipe. Only three bodies were recovered from the hole, but 1,000 people were evacuated with the fear that it might continue to grow.
2. In February 2013, 37-year-old Jeff Bush was soundly sleeping in his Florida home when a 50-foot sinkhole opened up underneath him. His brother, Jeremy, who heard the horrendous sound ran into what was his brother’s bedroom…
After jumping into the hole in an attempt to save his brother, Jeremy had to be rescued himself. Just imagine sleeping peacefully in your bed when suddenly your bedroom floor rips open and takes you and all your sweet dreams with it! The nightmare doesn’t end there…
3. Blowholes aren’t just the cute little fountains on the noggins of whales, they can also be dangerous geological formations. In coastal areas, water from the ocean can erode the terrain creating a hole in the rock that acts as a high powered super-vent for water to be blown out and violently sucked back in. Take this one in Hawaii…
Maui is home to the Nakalele blowhole. In July of 2011, a 44-year-old man on vacation from Canada was dancing around the hole when its current sucked him into the sea. He was spotted once more by terror-stricken on-lookers in the next wave and then never again…
4. In 2000 in a Moses-like sea floor reveal, the ancient city of Thonis-Heracleion in Egypt was discovered almost perfectly intact after 1,200 years underwater. The city, which now lies under the Mediterranean, was once a major port on the Nile River and home to thousands of inhabitants.
Scientists haven’t yet concluded whether an earthquake, tsunami, or a series of volcanic eruptions caused Heracleion to sink. Some experts believe there’s enough evidence to prove that the city sank in a single day, possibly bringing thousands of residents down with her.
5. In 2001 two young friends, Alyshia Bennett and Chloe Foster, went to Charlestown Lake outside of Cornwall, England. Swimming out to explore a small island they spotted in the middle of the lake, the last thing they expected was to have a run-in (sludge-in?) with quicksand.
Luckily, as the girls became trapped in the deadly sand, two nearby friends came to the rescue by climbing a nearby tree that reached over the water. They cleared water and sand from their mouths, buying the girls enough time for the fire department to arrive and safely unearth them from a near-fatal end.
6. In 2006, a 19th-century goldmine under Alta, California collapsed after rains weakened a portion of its huge underground tunnel network. The old mine in question was directly under the home of Jason Chellew.
After Jason went to investigate some strange noises coming from the floor in his living room, he was instantly devoured by the old mine as a massive sinkhole formed. Though his body was retrieved after a few days, old mining tunnels remain a threat and we can only hope Jason was the last to fall for gold.
7. Similar to the Sinkhole in Guatemala City, this Atlanta hole was caused by excessive rain and a burst drainage pipe under a hotel parking lot. Three cars and two people were instantly dragged into the pit…
While one of the bodies was recovered directly from the hole, the second was found days later in a sewer pipe. Three cars getting dragged into a pit might have you imagining a top-speed refueling at a Nascar event, but this ‘pit’ definitely wasn’t delivering a tuneup.
8. Although the Solfatara Volcano just outside of Naples, Italy is dormant, that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. The volcano still actively emits deadly jets of steam and sulfurous gases. Signs lurk every corner warning visitors to beware of the volcanic crater…
In 2017, one child visiting the site with his family wandered off into the restricted area. The parents ran to bring him back to safety, but the weight of the three of them caused the ground to collapse, trapping them. This was a fatal reminder that volcanoes never really sleep.
9. A magnitude 7 earthquake hit Fukui, Japan in 1948 wreaking havoc across the area. It was so devastating that the Japan Meteorological Agency increased its scale of seismic intensity, as the earth actually opened up, causing one unfortunate woman to meet her fate.
According to witnesses, the woman fell into a fissure on a rice paddy that closed up again as the earthquake continued, crushing her. The woman’s husband and children later found her body with her hands still gripping onto rice plants, in what they could only guess was an attempt to dig herself out.
10. In April of 1993, 7-year-old Kwami Sharif was playing with his brother in the courtyard of their apartment in North Brunswick, New Jersey. When Kwami stuck his foot in a small hole in the yard, the ground sank eight feet, pulling the boy down into a mess of water and debris.
Kwami’s father was close by, and along with help from neighbors, he desperately attempted to rescue his son. Seven hours of digging finally revealed the boy’s body, where it was confirmed that he died after asphyxiating on the earth itself.
Even if you have your feet firmly planted on the ground, you should still always be on your toes. You never know if you’ll be the next person to feel the earth move under your feet.
Share these scary sinkholes with your friends who like to live on the edge below!