Fierce rains lead to dangerous sinkholes in northern Vietnam

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A 7-meter-wide sinkhole that opened up in the bedroom of Bui Thi Thuy of Cam Pha Town, Quang Ninh Province August 26. Photo by Bich Ngoc

Sinkholes that recently opened up inside and outside houses in the northern provinces of Phu Tho and Quang Ninh have left the residents badly frightened.

Between August 23 and 26, a series of sinkholes formed in a residential area in Phu Tho's Thanh Ba District following torrential downpours.

Early on August 23, during a heavy downpour, a strange sound that sounded like an explosion was heard in front of the house of Duong Thi Mau, 73, in Ninh Dan Commune.

To her horror, her whole front yard was swallowed by a large sinkhole.

After local authorities were informed of the incidents, they had 18 trucks fill the sinkhole with stones and soil the same day.

However, at around 5:30 p.m. on August 26, after another heavy downpour, a sinkhole 7-8 meters wide and 10 meters deep appeared on the same site.

Mau's neighbors were so frightened that they decided to evacuate the area, fearing the sinkhole would expand and swallow their houses as well.

Sinkholes have been seen in various residential areas of the commune, affecting at least 450 households.

Some holes are as big as a 50-square-meter house and 10 meters deep. Local authorities have had to evacuate residents out of the affected areas and block vehicles from entering some roads.

A resident named Nguyen Thi Lan said many sinkholes have opened up beneath in her house, inside her bedroom and in the front yard.

What has caused the sinkholes is still not known, but locals say it might be the result of stone exploitation activities of a local cement company.

In Quang Ninh Province, a woman was hospitalized after being swallowed up by a 7-meter-wide sinkhole that opened up in her bedroom.

The incident happened after midnight on August 26 when Bui Thi Thuy and her family were sleeping in their house in Cam Pha Town.

The family members heard a huge sound and then saw the wall shaking. A sinkhole swallowed the bed on which Thuy was lying and buried it three meters underground.

Thuy was luckily pulled out of the hole and admitted to hospital where she had to have 10 stitches on her forehead.

The sinkhole also affected nine houses near Thuy's house.

Local authorities say at least seven sinkholes have formed in the town since June.

They are still investigating the cause.

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