A large sinkhole, measuring 50 feet in width and 600 feet long, opened up in the parking lot of a new IHOP restaurant in Meridian, Mississippi, on Sunday.
According to CNN, the sinkhole swallowed 15 cars. The details as to why the parking lot caved in have not emerged as of yet.
Sandra White, a bystander, said, “Oh my God, I mean this is in Meridian. I know things happen out of town like this, but right here in Meridian, our hometown. I’ve never seen this before and it’s just devastating to me.”
While several people are calling the incident a sinkhole, Meridian Mayor Percy Bland said he is not certain what it is. He further added that precautionary measures are being taken to ensure that the damage remains at a minimum. “What we’re trying to do right now and what we did last night is try to provide public safety for our citizens,” Mayor Bland said. “We called MDOT, they had to come out and do a compaction test from Frontage Road back South. Everything was fine so we opened back up Frontage Street. We’re still in the fact finding process right now.”
Public Safety Director, Buck Roberts, denied claims that the incident was the result of a sinkhole. As reported by WTOK, he said, “I didn’t say I wouldn’t consider it to be a sinkhole, we’ve never experienced a sinkhole. I don’t know what you call it or what the definition of a sinkhole is. It’s a major problem, but I’m not going to call it a sinkhole, I’m not going to call it a cave in, I’m going to call it an accident.”
Sinkholes occur when the soil fails as a result of the underground water aquifer drying up, creating a void underneath.
There have been no injuries reported in the area. The area has been cordoned off by emergency officials.
Spokesman of the IHOP, Craig Hoffman, commented on the incident. “The cause of the sinkhole is still under investigation, and our primary concern continues to be the safety of our guests and team members, therefore, the restaurant will remain closed until all necessary repairs have been completed,” he said.