Five Sinkholes That are Far Worse Than Hemel Hempstead's

By Gerald Lynch on at

As if the widespread flooding wasn't enough to contend with, the UK's sodden ground is now becoming increasingly at risk of caving in, creating sinkholes. 17 families from Oatridge Gardens in Hemel Hempstead had to be evacuated over the weekend after a 20-foot deep, 35-foot wide sinkhole appeared by a nearby road and their homes.

Here's a look that particular sinkhole:

Now we mean no disrespect to the families currently having their lives rocked by the appearance of the Hemel Hempstead sinkhole -- it looks bloody awful. But in a cloud-with-silver-lining sort of way, things could have been much, much worse. Here are five terrifying sinkholes much more dangerous than Hemel Hempstead's.

The most extreme recent example of the awe-inspiring power of a major sinkhole occurred in Guatemala back in May 2010. Collapsing to a depth of 200-feet, it swallowed up an entire clothing factory.

Just as destructive was a 30-foot deep, 3,200 square-foot sinkhole that appeared in Guangzhou, China back in January of last year. Thought to be caused by the nearby construction of a subway station, it was a miracle nobody was hurt as it consumed a building.

This Brazilian street had already suffered flooding, causing this sinkhole to appear, swallowing a car and seeing the resultant hole filled quickly with water. What's most terrifying is that, with the extent of the sinkhole difficult to estimate, it can be very difficult for emergency services to act as quickly as they would like to. Had anyone been trapped in this car, they'd have stood little chance of escape.

While not on the scale of the previous three sinkholes, this clip of another Chinese sinkhole shows how suddenly and dangerously they can appear. This Chinese girl was lucky a passing cab driver spotted her sudden disappearance, or she may have been trapped fatally.

Sinkholes alone can be incredible and terrifying. But when they combine with other natural phenomena, they can be disastrously dangerous. A giant sinkhole that appeared in Bayou Corne, Louisiana, began exhaling oils and natural gasses that collected below it, creating the very-real possibility of an explosive sinkhole. That's two nightmares come at once.