A woman ran screaming among campsites at a coastal Queensland holiday park on Saturday night, banging on caravans and yelling for people to get out, as the ground opened up and started swallowing vehicles.
The sinkhole, initially described by ABC News as bigger than a football field and several metres deep, engulfed vehicles at a popular camping spot near Queensland’s Rainbow Beach.
The hole, about 100-metres long by 100-metres wide, developed at Inskip Point, near the southern tip of Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island. The event happened around midnight, sparking panic in the darkness.
Reports this morning say the sinkhole has now doubled in size and nobody knows how big it could eventually grow. Scientists are using ground-penetrating radar in an attempt to find out.
A description of the alarming event by local Clayton’s Truck Towing, posted on Facebook, said:
“Two Claytons employees and friends were on holidays in a group in the middle of the mayhem. They had camped approx 200 metres from the beach next to the boundary fence of the campsite and heard a noise like a storm.
“On looking they realised the sand was rapidly disappearing into the ocean at a amazing speed. They only just got their 4wds and caravans out with seconds to spare as their campsite disappeared 3 metres down into the ocean. A 4wd, large caravan , camper trailer, tents etc on the site next to them all got swallowed into the ocean.”
Police and SES crews arrived quickly, helping holidaymakers and campers to leave, the ABC reported. Emergency workers warned other campers to pack and be prepared to evacuate at short notice.
A dramatic ABC report quoted a man who was fishing with another man on the beach when they heard a commotion “and looked around to see the ground opening up”.
The second man raced back to his campsite, only to see his car and caravan going under. A campervan is also said to have disappeared.
Campers who still had access to their vehicles were reportedly fleeing the site yesterday, setting up a temporary camp in a park while they work out what to do. The sinkhole, probably caused by an enormous cavity deep underground, keeps on growing.
The area is popular with tourists and sightseers are arriving to view the expanding sinkhole, despite authorities warning the public to stay well clear of it.
Written by Peter Needham