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New Florida sinkhole in same Florida town

Florida sinkhole: A new sinkhole opened up in Seffner, Fla., the same town where a sinkhole swallowed a man. This is at least the third sinkhole in the Florida town in a month.

By StaffAssociated Press / March 25, 2013

This video image shows an aerial photo of a sinkhole earlier this month in Seffner, Fla., that opened up underneath a bedroom and swallowed Jeffrey Bush. Florida is one of only two states where insurers of residences have to cover damage related to earth movement.

ABC Action News-WFTS TV/AP

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Seffner, Fla.

Authorities say a sinkhole has opened between two homes in Seffner and the houses have been evacuated as a precaution.

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Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico said the hole was estimated at 8 feet across and 10 feet deep. It opened about 7 p.m. Saturday.

Seffner was also the site of a massive sinkhole that swallowed a man in his bedroom, killing him about a month ago.

As LiveScience.com points out, "sinkholes are an increasingly deadly risk in Florida, due primarily to the region's geology. The state is largely underlain by porous limestone, which can hold immense amounts of water in underground aquifers. As groundwater slowly flows through the limestone, it forms a landscape called karst, known for features like caves, springs and sinkholes.

The water in aquifers also exerts pressure on the limestone and helps to stabilize the overlying surface layer, usually clay, silt and sand in Florida. Sinkholes form when that layer of surface material caves in."

As The Christian Science Monitor reports, sinkhole insurance for homeowners is rare. "Only in Florida and Tennessee – where sinkholes are common – are home insurance providers required to offer coverage for damage related to earth movement.  “In California, earthquake coverage is optional,” says Lynne McChristian, the Florida representative for New York-based Insurance Information Institute. "The home and your property are covered but not the land. Insurers in Florida are required to cover land as well.”

"Sinkhole insurance in the Sunshine State has been somewhat of a nightmare for policyholders and providers alike in recent years. Rates for sinkhole coverage jumped last year, with state-run Citizen’s Property Insurance hiking rates 50 percent in parts of  “sinkhole alley” – pockets of Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties, in and around the greater Tampa area, according to the Consumer Insurance Guide. Private insurers hiked rates up to 200 percent. "

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