Larger Than A Football Field (And Growing), Sinkhole Has Swallowed 1 House, 2 Dogs

Jun 16, 2021
Originally published on June 16, 2021 8:03 pm

A large sinkhole has been growing at a farm in Mexico since May. It's already swallowed a house, and two dogs had to be rescued from the hole last week.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

What is bigger than a football field, getting bigger every day and has captured the attention of an entire country? We are talking about the giant sinkhole that began forming in central Mexico last month and just keeps growing. As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, nobody really knows why it's there.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: It all started late last month at a small farm in the central Mexican state of Puebla. The ground under a large agricultural field gave way and then gave way some more.

(CROSSTALK)

KAHN: Then the crowds started showing up and tweeting videos, like this one full of shrieks every time more and more land got sucked up into the hole.

(CROSSTALK)

KAHN: Just why the sinkhole - now more than 50 feet deep and nearly 500 feet wide - formed, no one has a definitive answer. Some point to the porous soil; others to excessive groundwater extraction from nearby factories in a controversial water bottling plant. Geophysicist Carlos Miguel Valdes of Mexico's National Autonomous University told Televisa that it's going to be hard to stop it from getting bigger.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARLOS MIGUEL VALDES: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "All that activity around it now, the vibrations from the cars and people - it's all problematic," he says. Mexicans are fixated, though.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Singing in non-English language).

KAHN: They're writing songs about it and passing around memes on social media, like one with a soccer stadium built around the hole or another with a giant Shrek bathing inside. National interest soared as the sinkhole edged closer toward a nearby house, soon swallowing the simple concrete block structure. When two local dogs playing near the ever-expanding edge fell in, the country was hooked. The two canines, Spay and Spike, were trapped in the hole's muddy depths for more than 72 hours. Under pressure from animal lovers and even a few Mexican film stars, rescue workers lowered a firefighter over the sheer cliffs and brought the two to safety. Spay's owner, Fatima Ortega Jimenez, told a local news station she's grateful to have her beloved pit bull back.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FATIMA ORTEGA JIMENEZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: "I loved him before, but I'm going to love him two, three times more now that I have him back," she said. As for the owners of the house lost to the giant sinkhole, the governor says he'll relocate the family and help them build a new home.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.