An enormous sinkhole in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou (previously known as Canton) destroyed five shops and split apart another building, shocking local residents and China's ever-vigilant social media.
The huge sinkhole, which caused no fatalities, opened near a subway construction site and was well documented online through amateur videos, as well as followed closely on Weibo, China’s microblogging tool similar to Twitter. The hole is currently about 1,000 square feet across and almost 30 feet deep (90 square meters and 10 meters deep) and appears to be expanding.
Officials have evacuated 300 nearby residents, who have been moved to a shelter. The collapse also took down several electrical wires and telephone poles, leaving roughly 3,000 surrounding homes without power.
Many Weibo users are suggesting that the sinkhole was caused by the subway construction, another case of dangerous overdevelopment without regard to safety.
“In the end it cannot withstand the overdevelopment of subways,” one user said.
Guangzhou, China's third-largest city with 13 million inhabitants, has seen sinkholes before; a collapse occurred in 2004 on the same road near a large mall. That sinkhole was measured at 98 square feet and was reportedly caused by the construction of an underground tunnel. As construction seems to be a common factor in these accidents, many Chinese are urging for more regulations.
“Terrifying. Precautions need to be made to prevent this from happening, yet again!” said one commenter.
As China continues to rapidly develop its infrastructure, it has been continually faced with cases of poor construction planning. According to reports on Caixin Online, a Chinese newspaper, China has seen a drastic increase of sinkholes. In 2007, 54 sinkholes were reported. By 2009, 129 had been documented. Just last summer, over just three weeks, China’s capital city, Beijing, reported 99 sinkhole-type collapses.
Luckily, no one died in Guangzhou. But even with no death toll, it has proven to be incredibly disruptive to residents and troublesome for governments to reconstruct damaged infrastructure.