They Were Boarding the Bus. Then the Ground Opened

At least 6 are dead in the Chinese city of Xining after sinkhole tragedy
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2020 10:15 AM CST

An everyday event turned to terror Monday when pedestrians boarding a bus—and the bus itself—were sucked into a giant sinkhole in China, the Guardian reports. Hair-raising footage from the city of Xining shows the front of the bus toppling nose-first as commuters plunge into the hole and others run for their lives. A young man who barely gets away is seen grabbing a baby from the sinkhole's edge, per CNN. But when he and others come back to save a woman who's hanging on, more of the sinkhole opens and they fall inside. Seconds later, an explosion erupts inside the hole, causing a ball of fire and smoke to billow out, followed by less dramatic explosions.

"I heard someone shouting 'Help! Help!' and ran over," says passerby Sun Wanhong. "I saw a person hanging on the edge, so I reached out my hand to grab her. As soon as I reached her, [the road] collapsed again and there was nothing at the bottom, and several people who were helping out with me fell through." He adds that he thinks the explosion was caused by an "electricity cable." At least six people are reportedly dead, 10 are missing, and 16 are injured; officials estimate the sinkhole's size at 860 square feet. Sinkholes can be created by natural erosion or acidic rainwater that dissolves rock, but critics have blamed construction and rapid development in China for earlier sinkholes—including one in 2018 that killed four people, the BBC recalls. (Read more sinkhole stories.)

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