(AP) — A sinkhole
that appeared on a farm in central Mexico in late May has grown to the size of a football
field, begun swallowing a house
, and trapped two dogs
in its depths.
After four days trapped on a ledge on the sheer sides of the hole dropping 50 feet (15 meters) to water
, the government of the central state of Puebla announced late Thursday that it had managed to pull the two dogs out.
Because the loose soil at the pit's edges kept collapsing into the water at the bottom, it was deemed too dangerous to attempt to save the animals
for several days.
On Thursday, however, a firefighter
descended into the pit, partly by using a ladder to steady the soil on the edge, while his colleagues stood further back, using ropes and a pulley system to haul up cages carrying the two dogs.
The dogs, named Spay and Spike, were apparently playing in the farm field surrounding the sinkhole when they fell in, according to the state government, who distributed photos
of them looking alert and in the care of veterinarians.
The sinkhole has grown to be over 400 feet (125 meters) across in some places, and it may be 150 feet (45 meters) deep at its deepest point, though this is difficult to determine because the crater is filled with water.
The Mexican government has dispatched soldiers to keep people
2,000 feet (600 meters) away from the edge of the 50-foot (15-meter)-deep hole.
“It’s a difficult time for us; it hurts because this is all we have,” said Magdalena Xalamigua Xopillacle, whose brick and cinderblock house was slowly collapsing into the sinkhole.
Some residents believe the sinkhole is the result of excessive groundwater extraction by nearby factories or a water bottling plant, but the bottom of the hole is filled with water that appears to have strong currents, and experts at the national civil defense office believe it was caused by something resembling an underground river.
“The presence of subterranean water flows is highly likely to be associated with the origin,” the office
Puebla Gov. Miguel Barbosa said experts are looking into both possibilities, and if water extraction is to blame, he will revoke any permits.
The office advised residents to avoid the site in Zacatepec, Puebla state, east of Mexico City, citing the risk of further ground fractures.
“This is not a tourist attraction or a place to visit with your family,” the office stated on Wednesday, adding that authorities have erected metal barriers and police
tape to keep onlookers out and have prohibited the use of drones over the area.