Storm blows a 200ft hole in Guatemala City, swallowing a buildingBy Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 12:18 AM on 2nd June 2010
This is the scene in Guatemala after a 200ft deep sink hole swallowed up a three-storey building.
The enormous crater appeared in the Central American country's capital, Guatemala City, as it was being ravaged by torrential rain and mudslides during Tropical Storm Agatha.
Agatha, the first named storm of the 2010 Pacific season, slammed into Guatemala and neighbouring El Salvador at the weekend, dumping more than three feet of rain in the region.
Sink hole: This incredible picture shows a 200ft-deep hole in an intersection in downtown Guatemala City. In the top left of the intersection stood a three-storey building
'I've got no one to help me. I watched the water take everything,' said Carlota Ramos in the town of Amatitlan near the Guatemalan capital, crying into her hands outside her brick house almost completely swamped by mud.
As the sun came out, exhausted rescue workers hauled away stones and tree trunks from crushed houses as they fought to reach wounded people and find dozens still missing.
'We just have shovels and picks. We don't have any machinery to dig,' said firefighter Mario Cruz, who had been working almost nonstop since Friday night.
Lucky escape: Neighbouring buildings are left untouched after torrential rain led to this huge crater forming in the capital. The area has been closed off and evacuated
Helicopters ferried tents and medical supplies to remote towns on Guatemala's Pacific coast and the first foreign aid began to flow in on Monday.
The U.S. government donated $113,000 to pay for emergency supplies and to charter private helicopters to assist in the relief effort. The Guatemalan government is expected to formally appeal for aid today.
More than 94,000 people have been evacuated from the capital.
Sink holes can appear suddenly but are thousands of years in the making, geologists said.
The gaping holes are usually caused by rainwater gradually eating away at porous rock such as limestone below the surface, weakening it, and creating a honeycomb of caverns and caves which can become packed with mud. Floodwater may have flushed away that mud - leading everything above it to collapse.
Ash threat: Officials blame mudslides and sink holes in the capital on poor drainage, due to ash from the Pacaya volcano blocking drains. The volcano erupted last week, laying a blanket of ash on everything - including the runway at Guatemala City's international airport
Guatemalan officials have warned the flooding from Agatha could be worsened by ash from the Pacaya volcano blocking drains.
Last Thursday's eruption forced the closure of Guatemala City's international airport. Ash again covered the tarmac yesterday, delaying plans to reopen the facility, aviation officials said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1283066/Guatemala-sink-hole-Tropical-storm-Agatha-blows-200ft-hole-city.html#ixzz0pf2kKbPy