Humongous sinkhole opens up in Germany

A huge sinkhole appeared this week in the central German town of Schmalkalden, swallowing a parked car and a garage door but causing no injuries.

The circular hole, which is about 98 feet across and 65 feet deep, appeared at around 3 a.m. Monday in a residential area, reports Der Spiegel, forcing the evacuation of 25 people.

Experts are pointing to natural causes for the hole, but they have yet to determine the exact cause.

Sinkholes are often caused by the underground erosion of salt beds or soluble sedimentary rocks, such as limestone or dolomite. Groundwater flows through these rocks, creating subterranean caverns that can suddenly collapse.

In the past year, large sinkholes have appeared in Guatemala City; Tampa, Fla.; Quebec; and Milwaukee.

Officials from Schmalkalden, a town of 20,000 that was formerly part of East Germany, say that they plan to fill the hole with gravel.

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