Sinkhole at Queensland beach swallows vehicles

A handout image from Higgins Storm Chasing shows a 150m-long and 50m-wide sinkhole near Rainbow Beach.
A handout image from Higgins Storm Chasing shows a 150m-long and 50m-wide sinkhole near Rainbow Beach.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SYDNEY • Campers at a popular spot near Queensland’s Rainbow Beach had a narrow escape when a sinkhole bigger than a football field and 3m deep opened up around midnight last Saturday, swallowing vehicles as it expanded.

No one was injured in the incident at Inskip Point, which is the second time a sinkhole has occurred in the area, with the last one taking place in 2011.

However, a car, a caravan and a camper trailer were lost to the massive depression.

“There was all this yelling and screaming. Then a caravan went over the edge. Pretty scary,” a woman at the campsite told Channel Nine, reported The Telegraph.

Police and State Emergency Service personnel rushed to the scene, helping campers in the immediate vicinity of the 150m-by-50m sinkhole to leave. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services said 140 people were evacuated from the site.

Describing the incident, holidaymaker Casey Hughes told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation the sinkhole “sounded like a thunder noise” as it opened up. One woman ran screaming through nearby campsites, banging on caravans and yelling for people to get out.

The area has now been cordoned off to prevent vehicle and pedestrian access, though other camping grounds at Inskip Point remain open, reported The Guardian. Rangers and police have erected traffic barriers and warning signs to advise beachgoers of potential risks.

Senior ranger Dan Clifton said: “There is a real possibility the hole could expand with ocean currents, so people are urged to avoid the area. While we continue to assess the situation, our priority is public safety.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline 'Sinkhole at Queensland beach swallows vehicles'. Print Edition | Subscribe