Sinkhole opens up under woman as she hangs laundry

Sinkhole Opens Up Under Woman As She Hangs Laundry
Sinkhole Opens Up Under Woman As She Hangs Laundry

A woman in Melbourne, Australia, was hanging laundry on a clothesline outside a friend's home Tuesday when the ground opened up beneath her.

Sky News reports Christina Beaumont fell into a 10-foot-deep sinkhole with water at the bottom. She was forced to tread water for about 20 minutes until neighbors heard her and called authorities for help.

The Guardian spoke with one of the paramedics who was on the scene.

"At one point she was completely submerged, but she managed to get her head back above water, climb out of the hole and she remained there because she was just too deep," paramedic Stephanie Palamberis said.

After emergency responders got Beaumont out of the hole, the operations officer for the County Fire Authority told ABC Australia the woman was not injured, just shaken up.

Still, her daughter told The Age Beaumont collapsed from shock later that evening and was taken to the hospital for some tests. There has been no further word on her condition.

The U.S. Geological Survey notes sinkholes are most common in areas with large amounts of limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds or rocks underneath the surface. They form when erosion causes the bedrock underneath the ground to wear away.

"As the water eats away at the rock, the overburden starts to fall down into the space left behind, and after a while the only thing holding up the surface is a thin crust of soil," Discovery's Trace Dominguez explains.

ABC also reports manmade construction like the weight of a house or the building of a well can trigger a sinkhole -- and it looks like that's to blame here.

A city council member told reporters the sinkhole that swallowed Beaumont developed because of an old well that had not been filled in properly.

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