Sinkhole Swallows Part of Florida Shopping Center

A tractor-trailer-size
 sinkhole has turned a central Florida shopping center parking lot into a no-man's land overnight.

The hole, which officials in Winter Haven, Florida, said was 70 feet long and 15 feet deep, is across the street from a Legoland but has become a local attraction with residents stopping by to see it for themselves.

"This is remarkable. I cannot believe this," said a resident named Julie. "This, to me, is a little bit scarier than an earthquake."

The sinkhole started as a small depression in the parking lot outside Publix supermarket early Thursday.

Clare Barroso told ABC News affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa Bay that she unknowingly had parked by the hole this morning.

"[I] parked at 5:45, went into the store and about 7:30, my boss said, 'Grab your keys. There's a sinkhole behind your car,'" she said.

Three hours later, the hole had grown so large, a school bus could fit inside of it.

"I'm very lucky," Barroso said.

Scientists said that building on unstable land combined with the state's heavy summer rains was likely to blame. No injuries were reported.

Crews evacuated three businesses as a precaution. The property manager said he planned to repair the lot this weekend after a geologist had determined the ground around the hole was stable.


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