July 24, 2021

there is only one room left standing

There is hardly a room left standing.

The house of the Sánchez Xalamiahua family, which had been threatened for fifteen days by a huge sinkhole in an agricultural area of ​​Puebla, in central Mexico, fell almost completely in the early hours of Saturday, according to the testimony of neighbors cited by local media.

The house had been evicted by authorities after the hole was projected as a threat.

The sinkhole appeared on May 29 with just 5 meters (16 feet) in diameter, but it grew at a steady and rapid rate. As of Friday, it had a diameter of more than 125 meters (400 feet) at some sites and it is estimated that it could be as deep as 45 meters (150 feet) at its deepest point, although it is difficult to know exactly, since it is full of water.

The Mexican government had sent soldiers to keep the curious 600 meters (2,000 feet) from the edge of the hole, into which two dogs fell in midweek, and remained trapped for two days without food before being rescued on Friday. .

“We are having a very difficult time. We are hurt by our heritage, ”said Magalena Xalamigua Xopillacle, owner of the brick and concrete house that she saw gradually collapse into the hole. “Sometimes we feel bad because of so much sadness.”

The governor of Puebla, Miguel Barbosa Huerta, said on Friday that the Sánchez Xalamiahua family will not be left helpless, since the local authorities “will give them a piece of land on which the state government will build a new home in a safe area.” It is not clear how they will be compensated for their land and crops.

Image of the sinkhole in Puebla on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. AP

Scientists from the National Center for Disaster Prevention, the National Polytechnic Institute and the Autonomous University of Puebla carried out geophysical studies to determine the origin of the hole in these lands located 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the Popocatepetl volcano.

His tentative conclusion is that it is the result of excessive extraction of groundwater by factories or a water bottling plant in the area. But the bottom is full of water that seems to have strong currents, and the National Coordination of Civil Protection of the Government of Mexico has indicated that experts believe it was caused by some kind of underground river.

“It is highly possible that the origin of the sinkhole is associated with the presence of groundwater flows”, According to Civil Protection.

Barbosa, who described the sinkhole as a “matter of enormous risk”, said that if it is due to the extraction of water, he will cancel the permits.

Neighbors of nearby homes have expressed concern about the tremors caused by the hole as it grows larger and larger and that they say is causing cracks in their homes.

By mentioning the risk of further fractures in the land, the authorities have warned the population to stay away from the place in the town of Zacatepec, east of Mexico City.

“It is not a tourist attraction, nor a place to visit with your family,” underlined Civil Protection on Wednesday.

The authorities have put up metal fences and cordoned off the area to keep people away. Drone flyby has also been restricted.

With information from Milenio and The Associated Press