Around 3:20 PM on Saturday, February 18th 2012, part of a 6-lane road Wanggil-dong, Incheon, caved in. Like a scene out of a movie complete with state of the art computer graphics, ‘in a moment’ a hole was formed in the middle of the road. This so-called ‘Incheon Sinkhole’ is remembered as one of the most shocking events in two years since it happened.
At the time of the sinkhole occurred it was recorded by a CCTV camera installed at a nearby lighting store. The CCTV video provided by Seong-hoon Park, owner of the lighting store, shows that the big sinkhole suddenly occurred in the middle of the 6-lane road where the Incheon Subway Line 2 was under construction. The size of the hole was 12 meters in diameter and 21 meters in depth. The sinkhole appeared suddenly without any warning. A van, which was passing by the scene at that time, narrowly escaped by changing to the third lane immediately after seeing that the ground had suddenly collapsed before him. Cars following the van also quickly slowed down and a traffic jam ensued from all the cars that had stopped on the road.
Citizens who witnessed were in a state confusion, and some controlled vehicles, signaling the seriousness of the situation. Unfortunately an accident did occur involving a Chinese restaurant delivery man, who did not recognize what had happened, and was driving very fast on his motorcycle and fell into the sinkhole, resulting in his death. At that time, Seong-hoon Park said, “I checked the recorded video from around 3 PM before the sinkhole occurred. I tried to find some signs like the earth shaking or what not, but I didn’t feel anything like that at all. It’s very surprising that the earth just sank all of sudden.” A real estate agent, whose office is located very close to the sinkhole, said, “I was sitting at the office and even up until seven minutes before the sinkhole happened there were no signs that it would happen. This is horrible.” Kye-yeong Choi, the owner of a bedding store from where the accident could be seen said, “The CCTV video shows that the earth sank gently. I saw that the asphalt road cave in without a sound, it was very frightening.”
Experts say, a fundamental alternative to prevent sinkholes in the center of cities is to stop rash and over development of urban areas. It’s important to deter the excessive use of underground water in order for the ground to be able to support itself. Most of all, what we need to do now is to identify the waterways of underground water to predict where sinkholes will occur and to prevent further damages. It’s too late if we establish solutions after the occurrence of sinkholes. Prof. Park, Jong-kwan gave an explanation about sinkholes saying, “Wehave to keep in mind that they are aliens which are able to swallow everything.”
Reporter Lee Seul [firstname.lastname@example.org]