A cave-in of a restaurant parking lot in Mississippi swallowed 12 cars, and experts are expected to begin work Monday to determine the cause of the collapse, authorities say. No one was reported injured when the pavement gave way outside the IHOP restaurant in Meridian Saturday night, leaving a long gash in the ground into which the vehicles tumbled. Meridian Public Safety Director Buck Roberts tells the Meridian Star that the collapse was not the result of a sinkhole, which is generally caused when an underground water aquifer dries and leaves a void in the ground.
"You can call it what you want, a cave-in or whatever, but it is not a sinkhole," says Roberts. Engineers and contractors will be on the scene Monday studying the site, he says. Emergency crews were called to the restaurant on Saturday evening and found a section of parking lot about 35 feet wide and 400 feet long had collapsed. Cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles had dropped into the gash in the earth, which appeared to be about 15 feet deep. "We'd been in there about three minutes," a woman whose daughter's car fell into the chasm tells the Star. "Then everything went black and we heard a boom." (Read more Mississippi stories.)