A Massive Sinkhole In Mexico Just Devoured a House and Is Still Growing

The giant and expanding sinkhole has enthralled the country, inspiring everything from musical tributes to pastries.
June 14, 2021, 3:19pm
Aerial view of a giant sinkhole in Santa María Zacatepec, Mexico. The white house on its edge teetered over into the hole this weekend.
Aerial view of a giant sinkhole in Santa María Zacatepec, Mexico. The white house on its edge teetered over into the hole this weekend. Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

MEXICO CITY - A sinkhole in Mexico devoured a house over the weekend in a tragic yet seemingly inevitable turn in a story that has captured the nation's attention.

The sinkhole appeared over two weeks ago in a field in the Central Mexican state of Puebla and slowly grew, inching closer and closer to a white house nearby. By Friday, the house teetered over the edge of the sinkhole, before collapsing into it late that evening.

The home was inhabited by a husband and wife, along with their two children, who invested much of their savings in building it and moved in just over a year ago. But everything changed for their dream home on May 29.

“We heard something like a rumbling,” Magdalena Xalamihua, one of the residents of the house, told the newspaper El País. “We thought it was fireworks, but we looked outside and saw the earth moving and water coming up, like waves. We ran.”

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The sinkhole's growth was aided over the last weeks by a series of rainy days which saw it double in size, reaching over 400 feet in length at some points—larger than a football field.

But the family's tragedy may have a silver lining.

The Puebla state government announced that “the municipality will grant a piece of land and the state government will pay for the construction of a house.”

The governor, Miguel Barbosa, also said that they are evaluating how to support other farmers nearby who have been affected by the sinkhole and “we will find a way to compensate them.”

While the collapse of the house ends one chapter in the story of the growing sinkhole, it's still unclear how large it could grow. Images show other properties, roads, and houses in the distance. The government has yet to announce a plan to stop its growth as Mexico enters the summer rainy season.

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The house teetered on the edge of the sinkhole before collapsing. Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Image

It's still unclear why the sinkhole appeared in the first place. Mexico’s national civil defense office said that it could be caused by an underground river, while residents have speculated that perhaps it's a result of water extraction by factories in the area.

Over the past weeks, onlookers have flocked to the region to take photos of the spectacle as it unfolded. The sinkhole has become a fixture in the Mexican press, especially after two dogs became trapped in it for four days last week until a daring rescue by firefighters saved the pooches, named Spay and Spike. 

Others have tried to capitalize on the sinkhole as well. A regional music group recorded and released a Cumbia song about the sinkhole which already has nearly 150,000 views on Youtube, while a local bakery began selling sinkhole-inspired bread that even includes small figurines of dogs inside the pastry.

While the sinkhole has captured Mexico’s attention and curiosity, other local residents must be anxious that if the government doesn’t find a way to stop its growth, their homes could be next.