MEXICO CITY - A firefighter descended into a massive sinkhole Thursday in Mexico to save two dogs stuck inside its depths, as a house teetered on the edge, its wall already crumbling into the expanse below.
The sinkhole appeared dramatically in the central Mexican state of Puebla in late May, and has since continued to slowly grow larger each day. It has attracted national attention as it inched closer and closer to a single white house. Onlookers nearby came to gawk and snap selfies, as the inhabitants of the house worried they were going to lose everything.
“It’s a very hard time for us. It hurts, because this is all that we have,” Magdalena Xalamihua, one of the residents of the house told the Associated Press. “At times we feel sick from so much sadness.”
But the growing hole truly grasped the national attention earlier this week when two dogs named Spay and Spike were playing in the field nearby, and then fell in. The dogs spent four days trapped on a ledge on the side of the sinkhole, sparking cries for help from pet owners and animal lovers around the country.
The daring rescue came yesterday. Video showed a firefighter using a ladder to climb into the pit and get the dogs into cages that were connected to a rope and pulley system, which his colleagues then pulled out to safety. The dogs were immediately transferred to a veterinarian and appeared to be in good health. The firefighter in the rescue was also unharmed.
The house on the other hand appears to be in imminent danger. The sinkhole has now breached the barrier of the wall and is only a short distance from the house.
Xalimihua, her husband, and two children had only recently built the house in the rural community of Santa María Zacatepec and moved in a little over a year ago, which they’d poured much of their life savings into. But on May 29 they were forced to quickly abandon their dream home.
“We heard something like a rumbling,” she 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.”
When it first appeared, the sinkhole measured around 200 feet. It’s now more than doubled in size and larger than a football field.
Residents and researchers are still unsure how or why the sinkhole appeared, although Mexico’s national civil defense office believes it could be caused by some sort of underground river. Residents speculated it could be due to water extraction from factories nearby.
As more and more people arrived to watch the sinkhole close in on the house, authorities put out a statement telling people that it wasn’t a “tourist attraction.”
For the owners of the house, it will be a tragedy if the sinkhole continues to grow.