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US man feared dead after falling into Florida sinkhole

US man feared dead after falling into Florida sinkhole
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A man is missing feared dead in the US state of Florida after being swallowed up by a sinkhole that suddenly appeared in his own home.

36-year-old Jeff Bush was sleeping in a bedroom late in the evening when others in the house near Tampa reported hearing a loud noise one said sounded like a car crash.

Rescue efforts have been suspended as it is thought the ground under the whole house might be unstable.

“I ran in there and heard somebody screaming, my brother screaming and I ran in there and all I could see is this big hole,” said the victim’s brother, Jeremy Bush. “All I could see was the top of his bed. It didn’t see nothing else so I jumped in the hole and tried digging him out and I couldn’t get him out. All I could hear was – I thought I could hear him screaming for me and hollering for me to help him but I couldn’t do nothing.”

A first responder was praised for jumping in and rescuing Jeremy Bush before he too was swallowed up.

Engineers using specialist equipment worked to determine the size of the sinkhole. A safety zone has been established around the house, wider than the hole itself.

“The open hole is about 30 feet (9.14 metres) in diameter and it’s completely contained within the inside of the house and it’s about 20 feet (six metres) deep. The 100 feet (30.4 metres) is the safety zone that has been established around that because the soils around that open hole have been disturbed. That is what this equipment is determining, the full extent of that area that has been disturbed,” said Bill Bracken, President of Bracken Engineering.

Listening devices and cameras were sent into the hole but “did not detect any signs of life”, said Ron Rogers, Hillsborough County’s Fire Chief.

He explained that sinkholes are common in parts of Florida, which sits on a system of caverns that sometimes collapse due to water erosion.