An IHOP cave-in in Meridian, Mississippi, was swallowed 15 cars. The massive hole was first thought to be sinkhole. The restaurant, which only opened a few days prior, was about 600-feet long and 50-feet wide. The sinkhole suddenly appeared without warning on Saturday evening.
The Meridian IHOP cave-in caused damage to the 15 vehicles swallowed, but did not harm people or property, NBC News reports.
Meridian Police Lieutenant Rita Jack said the department received an emergency call around 7:15 p.m., stating cars were falling through the pavement at the Mississippi IHOP.
"When we arrived on scene, 14 to 15 vehicles that we could see had fallen roughly 30 feet into the ground. We expect that there may be more and that they may fall further into the ground because there is only mud underneath," Lieutenant Jack added.
Large sinkhole swallows more than a dozen cars at Mississippi IHOP parking lot. https://t.co/hI4ZF6JCCg pic.twitter.com/n31EP6xY3JEfforts to recover the 15 vehicles that fell into the IHOP sinkhole could be hampered by expected rainfall in the coming days. Local officials expert to begin attempting to remove the cars from the Meridian restaurant parking lot in the next three to five days.
— CNN (@CNN) November 9, 2015
Lt. Jack also had this to say about the IHOP parking lot cave-in.
"The sinkhole is huge. If you imagine a football field cut in half, it is every bit of 50 feet wide and about 100–125 feet wide. We are talking 14 to 15 vehicles. It is very scary. We are so fortunate that no injuries were sustained. We are gonna keep it under observation until we know that it is clear and safe."
A giant sinkhole swallowed vehicles on Saturday in Meridian, Mississippi. https://t.co/iPOflNUNf5 pic.twitter.com/aXilJIB1olSeveral witnesses to the IHOP sinkhole incident told the media that a water line also ruptured as a result of the sinkhole.
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) November 8, 2015
Meridian Fire Department Chief Wayne Cook said that upon arriving at at the scene, his primary concern was to clear the area. Chief Cook and his firefighters were concerned that the immediate area around the sinkhole had not yet stabilized and could potentially still pose safety risks. The space around the massive 600-foot long and 50-foot wide Meridian sinkhole was roped off to prevent the curious from getting too close and falling into the hole, CNN reports.
"The cause of the sinkhole is still under investigation, and our primary concern continues to be the safety of our guests and team members," Craig Hoffman, International House of Pancakes spokesman, said. "The restaurant will remain closed until all necessary repairs have been completed."
While Chief Cook notes that an investigation into the Meridian IHOP sinkhole is ongoing, he said that intense rainfall over the past week may be to blame for the incident. Cook said that the Mississippi city was subjected to three inches of rain over the past weekend, and experienced 10 inches of rainfall over the course of the past two weeks -- which may have contributed to the formation of the sinkhole.
Diners inside the new IHOP restaurant when the sinkhole emerged said they heard a series of loud "booms" before the ground opened up and 15 vehicles disappeared from the parking lot. The boom noises were so intense that an employee reportedly thought an earthquake was occurring and yelled to alert his peers and patrons. Confusion quickly erupted inside the Meridian breakfast eatery.
Meridian Mayor Percy Bland said the IHOP sinkhole caused a loss of water for many nearby businesses, and work crews were quickly dispatched to help resolve the water line problem. The mayor said he was very impressed and proud of how quickly all emergency responders and workers got to the scene and worked to make sure that no one became injured or that no further damage occurred.
[Image via James R. Martin / Shutterstock.com]