GUATEMALA CITY — When neighbors heard the loud boom overnight they thought a cooking gas canister had detonated. Instead they found a deep sinkhole the size of a large pot inside a home in a neighborhood just north of Guatemala City.
The sinkhole that appeared late Monday was 12.2 meters (40 feet) deep and 80 centimeters (32 inches) in diameter, an AFP journalist who visited the site reported.
The hole is tiny compared to giant sinkhole that formed nearby in 2007 that was 100 meters (330 feet) deep and swallowed several homes and a truck, killing three people. Area residents were forced to evacuate for days.
A 2010 sinkhole also in the same area, measuring 18 meters (60 feet) wide and about 30 meters deep, swallowed a three-story building and a nearby house when it suddenly formed.
"When we heard the loud boom we thought a gas canister from a neighboring home had exploded, or there had been a crash on the street," said Inocenta Hernandez, a 65 year-old widow.
"We rushed out to look and saw nothing. A gentleman told me that the noise came from my house, and we searched until we found it under my bed," said Hernandez.
"Thank God there are only material damages, because my grandchildren were running around the house, into that room and out to the patio," she said.
Police, members of the country's natural disaster office and water utility company officials came to visit the site.
Sinkholes, formed by the natural process of erosion, can be gradual but are often sudden.
Guatemala City, built on volcanic deposits, is especially prone to sinkholes, often blamed on a leaky sewer system or on heavy rain.
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