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Giant sinkhole engulfs center of Illinois football field: NPR

Giant sinkhole engulfs center of Illinois football field: NPR

This photo provided by the City of Alton, Illinois, shows security video of a sinkhole at upper left that opened in the middle of a football field Wednesday in Alton, Illinois.

AP/City of Alton, Illinois.


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AP/City of Alton, Illinois.

ALTON, Ill. — A giant sinkhole has engulfed the center of a soccer complex built on an active limestone mine in southern Illinois, toppling a large light pole and leaving a gaping chasm where groups of children play often. But no injuries were reported after the sinkhole opened Wednesday morning.

“No one was on the ground at the time and no one was injured, and that’s the most important thing,” Alton Mayor David Goins told the (Alton) Telegraph.

Security video that captured the hole’s sudden formation shows a light pole on a football field disappearing into the ground, along with benches and artificial turf at the city’s Gordon Moore Park.

The hole is estimated to be at least 100 feet wide and up to 50 feet deep, said Michael Haynes, the city’s parks and recreation director.

“It was surreal. It was like a movie where the ground falls out from under you,” Haynes told KMOV-TV.

The park and surrounding roads are now closed indefinitely.

New Frontier Materials Bluff City said the sinkhole was the result of “surface subsidence” at its underground mine in the city, located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of St. Louis along the Mississippi River.

The collapse was reported to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration as required, company spokesman Matt Barkett said. He told The Associated Press that the limestone mine is about 170 feet (52 meters) underground and that he understands it runs beneath the city park where the sinkhole occurred.

“The affected area has been secured and will remain off-limits for the foreseeable future while inspectors and experts examine the mine and carry out repairs,” Barkett said in a statement. “We will work with the city to remedy this issue as quickly and safely as possible to ensure minimal impact on the community.

Haynes said he did not know how the sinkhole would be repaired, but that engineers and geologists would most likely be involved in determining the stability of the ground and surrounding areas.

News Source : www.npr.org
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