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Large sinkhole opens up in parking lot of Italian hospital, swallows cars

Friday, January 8th 2021, 12:56 pm - Patient care continued at the hospital due to backup systems.

A large sinkhole formed in the parking lot of a Naples, Italy hospital Friday, likely caused by excess underground water from recent heavy rain, Chief firefighter Cmdr. Ennio Aquilino told Italian television channel SkyTG 24.

There have been conflicting reports on the sinkhole's size, but the Associated Press (AP) cites the local hospital district as saying it is approximately 20 metres deep and 2,000 square-metres wide.

The hole severed utilities in a nearby residence for COVID-19 patients, forcing a temporary closure. Six patients were recovering from the virus at the time of the incident. All have been relocated.

Water and electricity was also cut at the main hospital, but backup systems allowed patient care to continue, regional governor Vincenzo De Luca told reporters.

WHAT IS A SINKHOLE?

Weather Network science writer Scott Sutherland says sinkholes form following a combination of "water, erosion and time":

"As water flows through the ground, it filters its way through the grains of dirt, rock and sand in the top soil and even through the grains of the underlying bedrock. If that bedrock is made of something like gypsum, limestone or dolomite, the water can wear it away, simply by dissolving away some of the sediments that make up the rock. This can take a long time with normal water, but with constant or repeated exposure, this can carve large holes and even extensive cave systems through the bedrock. If the water happens to be acidic, however, such as from absorbing carbon dioxide before it trickles down through the top-soil, this can dramatically speed up the process."

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