Sinkhole in China, Could this Happen in Canada?

Sinkhole in China, Could this Happen in Canada?

A 52 foot sinkhole swallows a security guard in China. Could it happen in Canada?

A 25 year-old security guard has been killed in China after being swallowed by a 16 meter (52 ft) sinkhole near a Shenzhen based construction site, raising more fears about increasing frequency of sinkholes and whether how much of a danger they could pose in other parts of the world, including Canada.

Footage of the incident, in which Yang Jiabin fell into the hole having been walking near the site where it opened up, has gone viral through social media and news web sites.

The latest incident has raised fears about the frequency of sinkholes, where they could open up and whether or not construction activity is a factor in their cause.

In this case, Chinese news media reports quote local residents as saying they have repeatedly complained about tremors from a construction site located just meters from where the hole opened up – albeit with authorities remaining unsure about the cause.

Indeed, questions about standards in planning and construction are being raised as more than 100 sinkholes are believed to have formed in Beijing alone in the last two months.

Furthermore, the latest incident has underscored increasing concerns around the world as to where and when these holes could open up.

Whilst commonly associated with far-away places, they are more common in Canada than many Canadians realise.

Earlier this month, Global News compiled a list of the worst ones in Canada and around the world.

They include one in September last year on Highway 174 east of Ottawa which Juan Pedro Unger drove into on his way home from work (he was able to climb out of his car without injury).

sinkhole accident Shenzhen-medium

A few months earlier, rush hour traffic in Montreal had to contend with a four meter hole which formed in the middle of Sherbrooke Street near McGill University following a student march.

Sinkholes generally form as a result of rainfall percolating through soil, absorbing carbon dioxide and reacting with vegetation, creating slightly acidic water which then moves through underground cracks and creates a network of cavities and voids by slowly dissolving limestone.

Those in Canada, however, have been more often put down to extremely bad weather or problems with underground pipes.

Both of the incidents referred to above were caused by collapsed or faulty sewer lines, with the student demonstration in the latter case believed to be unrelated to the sinkhole cause.

By Andrew Heaton
All Images Credit: AFP
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