FUKUOKA (TR) – A giant sinkhole here that disrupted utility and bank services and forced nearby buildings to evacuate was caused by underground extension work for the city’s subway, government officials said.
Police received numerous reports of a road that collapsed in front of JR Hakata Station at around 5 a.m. in Hakata Ward, Fukuoka City, resulting in a giant sinkhole measuring some 27 meters wide and 30 meters long, NHK reports (Nov. 8).
City officials released an evacuation advisory to nearby buildings at around 9:45 a.m. as city gas services in the area were suspended to check for leaks.
Aerial news footage showed all five lanes and sidewalks caved in with massive amounts of water flowing into the hole, to which police have closed off public access.
Kyushu Electric Power said there were power outages for some 800 homes and the domestic terminal for Fukuoka Airport. Telecommunications firm NTT also reported downed phone and internet lines.
The sinkhole also took bank services offline, with all branches of Fukuoka Bank unable to provide cash deposit and withdrawal services.
A woman in her 70s was hospitalized with an injured foot after falling down stairs trying to evacuate from a nearby building at around 9 a.m., police said.
The sinkhole stemmed from tunnel excavation work to extend the city’s subway lines, officials from Fukuoka City’s transportation bureau said.
Workers were digging the tunnel in the morning when water started flooding into the tunnel through the ceiling, officials said.