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Massive sinkhole opens up in St Albans cul-de-sac

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Courtney Caine
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« on: October 02, 2015, 02:52:15 am »

Massive sinkhole opens up in St Albans cul-de-sac
Residents were shocked to wake up to see gaping hole, which measures around 65ft by 65ft - roughly the length of two houses


 By Sophie Jamieson

5:27PM BST 01 Oct 2015

When a small hole appeared in the pavement of a suburban cul-de-sac in Hertfordshire last week, residents were unperturbed.

A fence around the hazard was expected to be sufficient to protect locals from injuring themselves as a postman had done on his rounds.

But when residents woke on Thursday they found the temporary barrier had vanished, swallowed by a massive sinkhole that engulfed the St Albans street.




The gaping hole, measuring around 66ft by 66ft (20m x 20m) - roughly the length of two houses - 33ft deep (10m) opened up in the middle of the night, forcing residents to evacuate.
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Courtney Caine
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« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2015, 02:52:53 am »



 One heavily pregnant woman, whose first child was due last Friday, described hearing an "awful rumble" in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Gemma Bagshaw, 32, said: "It sounded like a collapse, like an earthquake about 1.30 in the morning."
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Courtney Caine
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« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2015, 02:53:37 am »

 Her husband Ben, a carpenter, was the first to call the police when he saw the road had opened up, pulling down brick walls and coming close to homes and cars on Fontmell Close.

Mrs Bagshaw said: "We couldn't see much out the window but we already knew there was a very small sinkhole in the pavement so Ben instantly looked out and said the road's collapsed, that's what's gone.

"So he ran outside to take a look, came back in, told me to get dressed and give him my phone. He rang the police.

"And then literally we grabbed my hospital notes, ran out the house and tried to wake all the neighbours up. We were throwing things up at the window."

Residents of five houses were taken at around 3.15am to a makeshift evacuation centre at a local leisure centre.

Gas and electricity supplies were isolated, cutting off more than 50 local homes.
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Courtney Caine
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« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2015, 02:54:21 am »



 The Bagshaws were forced to leave behind most of the essential supplies they had bought in preparation for the new arrival.

"We weren't sure if it would be safe," Mrs Bagshaw said. "It felt so close to the house it could have collapsed the house as well.

"As we were outside trying to wake the neighbours it moved again, it got bigger while we were there. We could hear it getting bigger."

"If that's not going to bring the labour on I don't know what will," she joked.

• In pictures: sinkholes, craters and collapsed roads around the world

Residents have been told it is likely to be weeks before they can return to their homes.

An 80-year-old man who lives on the street was reduced to tears when told he may have to move into a care home while the situation is resolved.

Frank Kalcozi has lived independently in his home for 10 years.

His daughter Maria Ellwood, 53, said: "It's absolutely devastating and very, very traumatic. My dad was already depressed. We've got social services here at the moment and they are assessing him to see whether he can go into a nursing home."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/9908055/In-pictures-sinkholes-craters-and-collapsed-roads-around-the-world.html
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« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2015, 02:55:32 am »



 Local councillors suggested that the sinkhole could have been caused by a water leak, but the precise cause is not yet known.

Describing the hole, Richard Haddrell, who has lived on the road for 34-years with his wife Mary, said: "It has a ragged edge to it. It's just as if someone has used a cutter and taken a great lump out of the ground."

He added: "Last week a small sinkhole developed on the pavement. A postman fell in. That got fenced off and it was investigated."

Royal Mail confirmed the postman noticed the hole when a drain cover gave way during his rounds last Wednesday. He was not seriously injured and the incident was reported to the local council.

But Hertfordshire County Council said the crater could not have been predicted.


 Councillor Richard Thake said: "There was no way that I'm aware of that anybody could have foreseen that small depression could have led to what we have got here. Had we had any inkling we would have moved the residents out immediately and we would have acted totally differently."

The council placed barriers around the home on Monday and were due to fill it in on Thursday morning.

Cllr Thake said: "Holes of this kind crop up across Hertfordshire often for historic reasons and we'd like to reassure the public that it is rare for them to turn into large holes. No-one has been injured and no house has been damaged."

Locals said the houses had been built on the site of an old brickworks, where clay had been dug out for construction.

Mr Haddrell said: "We've known for a very long time that the ground on which some of these houses is built is very unstable.

"There's a history underpinning a number of the houses including our own. We couldn't possibly point the finger at the council. It's unstable ground."

The district council housing department is working to rehouse anyone who is unable to return to their homes and specialist highway engineers are investigating what happened.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/11903773/Massive-sinkhole-opens-up-in-St-Albans-cul-de-sac.html
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