Giant sinkhole forces Florida family to evacuate home

A 100-foot diameter well-rounded sinkhole appeared outside the home of a family in Windermere, Fla., Thursday. The sinkhole may still be expanding, so the family has moved out.

Good Morning, Sinkhole!

A large sinkhole that opened up overnight in the backyard of a central Florida home has forced a family to move out.

Officials say the sinkhole opened up Thursday morning, just feet away from the sliding glass door at the rear of a home in Windermere, an Orlando suburb.

Orange County Fire Rescue officials told the Orlando Sentinel, a resident spotted the 100-foot diameter sinkhole when she went outside to walk her dog just after 7 a.m. The newspaper reports the hole was about 50-feet deep behind a row of houses in the subdivision.

Sinkholes are often caused by the underground erosion of salt beds or soluble sedimentary rocks, such as limestone or dolomite. Groundwater flows through these rocks, creating subterranean caverns that can suddenly collapse.

In the past couple of years, large sinkholes have appeared in Guatemala City, Tampa, Fla., Quebec, Milwaukee, Wisc., and Germany.

In November 2010, a huge sinkhole appeared overnight in the central German town of Schmalkalden, swallowing a parked car and a garage door but causing no injuries. Similar to the Windermere sinkhole in size and shape, the Schmalkalden sinkhole was a circular hole, about 98 feet across and 65 feet deep. It  appeared at around 3a.m. in a residential area, reported Der Spiegel, forcing the evacuation of 25 people.

In Windermere, the family of six moved out of the house Thursday. Officials say nearby homeowners were notified that their homes could be in danger if the sinkhole expands. No word yet on their evacuation plans.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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