IHOP Sinkhole Swallows Cars In Meridian, MS

IHOP customers in Meridian, Mississippi were stunned last night when a giant sinkhole swallowed several cars outside the restaurant.

Witnesses heard loud booms followed by the electricity going out. Customers looked outside to see a large, 50-foot wide and 600-foot long sinkhole in the IHOP parking lot, as reported by local Meridian station Newscenter 11.

At 7:15 p.m. CT on Saturday night, emergency responders were called and arrived quickly to the scene. Authorities say 15 vehicles had fallen into the IHOP sinkhole.

Wayne Cook, Meridian Fire Department Chief Battalion, described the scene outside IHOP.

“We received a call earlier this evening of a sinkhole opening up at the new IHOP restaurant. Upon arrival, we found multiple vehicles in the ditch. At this time, we are trying to stabilize this and keep everyone away.”

As no one really knew what was going on at the time, the loud booms prompted one IHOP employee to yell, “earthquake!” Other witnesses said a water line ruptured, which left several nearby hotels without water.

According to news station WAPT, there were no injuries from the parking lot sinkhole.

The IHOP Sinkhole May Be Nothing Unusual

Sinkholes, like the one at IHOP, seem to be happening more and more often. As reported by the Inquisitr, just last month a sinkhole opened up in a Seffner, Florida neighborhood. The giant hole was measured to be 27 feet deep and 22 feet wide.

In 2013, another sinkhole less than two miles away killed Jeff Bush while he was sleeping. The ground opened up beneath his bedroom and despite screams for help, the man was swallowed up by the collapsing earth. Local officials did not allow anyone within 100 feet of the hole for fear of additional movement.

Jeff Bush killed when sinkhole suddenly opened up beneath him.
Home where Jeff Bush was swallowed up by large sinkhole. [Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images]
Earlier this year, a police officer in Denver was sucked into 15-foot sinkhole while driving. Sargent Greg Miller was driving his SUV through an intersection when, all of a sudden, a hole opened up in the middle of the street.

“Next thing I know… dirt – I’m assuming dust from the airbag – was floating around. I hear the rushing water, and all I see is a dirt wall in front of me,” Miller told local TV station KUSA.

Miller was not injured, but was taken to the local hospital to be checked out. Miller’s SUV didn’t make it and was deemed a total loss.

What Causes A Sinkhole Like The One At IHOP To Form?

Abruptly being swallowed up by the earth is a scary thought for many people. They often open up quickly and without any warning.

Many sinkholes are a natural process and are usually due to erosion from underground water. As water makes its way through the cracks and crevices of the earth, it moves dirt and minerals. The underground structure of the land literally washes away. The structure becomes too weak to support the land above and ultimately collapses.

Sinkholes can also be caused by human activities. Drilling, mining and excavation projects can weaken the land structure, as well. A broken water pipe underneath the ground can push dirt and sediment away, which changes the balance of the land above.

Sinkholes happen all over the planet, but they are particularly common in the U.S. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, states like Alabama, Missouri, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Florida are especially susceptible to sinkholes.

The cause of the IHOP sinkhole is still under investigation. Heavy rain may have contributed, as the area received three inches of rain this weekend and almost 10 inches over the past two weeks.

“As far as the investigation side of it, that’s going to be everybody who is involved with this,” Cook said.

In a twist of irony, the IHOP restaurant located on Frontage road is brand new and only opened last week. With a large sinkhole in the parking lot, possibly threatening the building itself, many customers may shy away from this Meridian, Mississippi IHOP for a while.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

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