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29 November 2023

Sinkhole swallows sleeping man in Florida

By Reuters

A wrecking crew on Sunday started demolishing the home of a man who disappeared into a sinkhole that swallowed his bedroom while he slept, after rescue workers gave up searching for his body on Saturday night.
Jeff Bush, a 36-year-old landscaper, had disappeared into the hole on Thursday night and was presumed dead.

 As family and friends stood silently across the street, demolition workers using a long-necked boom crane started to tear down the one-storey suburban Tampa home at about 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT) because of its dangerous condition.

The crane swung forward toward the house after several loud beeps. Some onlookers took pictures and rubbed each other's backs.

Bush was presumed dead after vanishing into the sinkhole that opened suddenly beneath his room. Five other people in the house were getting ready for bed when they heard a loud crash and Bush screaming.

Before the demolition started, Jeff Bush's brother, Jeremy, was escorted by a deputy sheriff to the mailbox at the start of the driveway. He knelt down and put flowers on the ground, bowed his head for a few minutes before getting up and retreating behind police tape.
Jeremy Bush himself was rescued after jumping into the hole and furiously digging in an effort to find his brother.

Norman Wicker, whose family owned the house and is the father to Jeremy's fiancée, said he grew up in it. "It's horrible ... my children were raised in that house, my grandchildren were raised in that house," he said.

The risk of sinkholes is common in Florida due to the state's porous geological bedrock, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
As rainwater filters down into the ground, it dissolves the rock, causing erosion that can lead to underground caverns, which cause sinkholes when they collapse.    

Two nearby houses have been evacuated because the sinkhole has weakened the ground under them, and their residents probably will never be allowed inside again, Jessica Damico of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said on Saturday.

These residents were allowed 20 to 30 minutes in their homes on Saturday to gather belongings.