Enormous sinkhole swallows bus and passengers in China, killing at least 6 people

Several people have been killed and many injured after a sinkhole swallowed a bus and pedestrians in Xining, China.

Posted: Jan 15, 2020 9:40 AM
Updated: Jan 15, 2020 9:40 AM

At least six people have died and 16 others have been injured after a massive sinkhole swallowed up a bus picking up passengers in northwestern China, the latest in a recent string of deadly road collapses in the country.

A public bus had just halted at a stop in the city of Xining, Qinghai province on Monday afternoon when a gaping sinkhole suddenly opened up underneath it, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Dramatic surveillance footage showed passengers boarding the bus when the collapse happened, swallowing the front of the vehicle, a lamppost and people waiting in line, while others at the bus stop fled for their lives.

A young man who barely escaped was seen picking up a baby from the edge of the sinkhole and bringing it to safety. He then returned with several others to help a woman left hanging on the edge. As they tried to pull her up, however, the road collapsed a second time beneath their feet, plunging everyone into the pit.

Seconds later, an explosion could be seen inside the sinkhole, sending a ball of fire above ground, followed by a thick plume of smoke and a few smaller explosions.

Search and rescue efforts remain ongoing. A total of six bodies were found and 16 people are being treated in hospital, the Xining municipal government said at a news conference on Tuesday morning.

Government officials estimated that the sinkhole covers an area of about 80 square meters (860 square feet). Images from the scene early Tuesday showed rescue workers lifting the bus out of the hole using a large crane.

A rescuer turned victim

Passerby Sun Wanhong, a retired armed police officer, was among the group of people who tried to help the woman out of the sinkhole, but ended up falling in themselves after the road caved in again.

"I heard someone shouting 'Help! Help!' and ran over. I saw a person hanging on the edge, so I reached out my hand to grab her. As soon as I reached her, (the road) collapsed again and there was nothing at the bottom, and several people who were helping out with me fell through," he told state-run news magazine China Newsweek.

"There was water running above, and an explosion took off due to the electricity cable. The sound was huge ... a water pipe broke, and water poured in," he said.

Sun pulled out a teenager stuck in sludge at the bottom of the pit, and held another child in his arms as they tried to walk up to the edge to climb up. Sun suffered multiple bone fractures and is being treated in hospital, the report said.

It's happened before

The collapse took place on a busy main street in the city center of Xining, the provincial capital and largest city in the far northwestern province of Qinghai.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the collapse. But the incident has drawn outrage online, with many questioning why sinkholes keep appearing in Chinese cities.

Sinkholes typically form when acidic rainwater dissolves limestone or similar rock beneath the soil, leaving a large void that collapses when it's no longer able to support the weight of what's above -- whether that be an open field, a road or a house.

But there are also mounting concerns that poor safety standards of public construction projects in Chinese cities -- which have expanded rapidly in recent decades -- could have played a role in some cases.

On December 1, three people on two vehicles fell into a massive sinkhole that suddenly appeared in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, near the construction site of a new underground rail line.

Just 11 days later, a road caved in the coastal city of Xiamen, again at an underground construction site, trapping at least two vehicles. No one was injured in this incident.

In 2018, four people were killed in the city of Dazhou, Sichuan province after they plunged into a sinkhole as the pavement caved in beneath them.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 663511

Reported Deaths: 12633
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion908511647
Lake48510882
Allen35951638
Hamilton32138398
St. Joseph30096513
Elkhart25423417
Vanderburgh21283379
Tippecanoe20096203
Johnson16380360
Porter16009272
Hendricks15855300
Clark11999181
Madison11764319
Vigo11636230
Monroe10363163
Delaware9854179
LaPorte9790197
Howard9075198
Kosciusko8574111
Bartholomew7479147
Warrick7430151
Hancock7418132
Floyd7226170
Wayne6645192
Grant6437157
Boone610389
Morgan6103125
Dubois5923111
Dearborn549068
Cass545899
Marshall5432105
Henry542593
Noble510178
Jackson465167
Shelby461490
Lawrence4189113
Gibson401781
Harrison401064
Clinton396553
Montgomery388483
DeKalb386478
Miami357663
Knox357585
Whitley349837
Huntington346277
Steuben339255
Wabash332376
Putnam331159
Ripley327762
Adams323949
Jasper317043
White297452
Jefferson295474
Daviess285596
Fayette271956
Decatur271088
Greene261680
Posey261431
Wells258575
Scott251250
Clay241544
LaGrange241270
Randolph225576
Spencer218030
Jennings215744
Washington212127
Sullivan203639
Fountain201842
Starke188451
Owen182853
Fulton179337
Jay178328
Carroll176519
Perry173435
Orange171150
Rush165322
Vermillion160842
Franklin159535
Tipton146841
Parke139416
Pike127833
Blackford120727
Pulaski106744
Newton96632
Brown95139
Benton92213
Crawford91013
Martin80214
Warren75814
Switzerland7558
Union67310
Ohio53911
Unassigned0433

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 972605

Reported Deaths: 16750
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1123671214
Cuyahoga961861832
Hamilton735721034
Montgomery47359903
Summit40384802
Butler35577505
Lucas35489685
Stark29456803
Warren22464271
Lorain22068414
Mahoning19509537
Lake18445318
Clermont18425201
Delaware16499116
Licking15022189
Fairfield14563180
Trumbull14369413
Greene13595218
Medina13423226
Clark12288248
Wood11575163
Portage11050164
Allen10793216
Richland10316183
Miami10035189
Muskingum8195112
Columbiana8151200
Pickaway8067107
Tuscarawas8054227
Marion7996125
Wayne7886193
Erie6914140
Ross6152128
Geauga6083136
Hancock6006116
Ashtabula5978152
Scioto596280
Lawrence527118
Union513537
Darke5036114
Belmont496659
Huron4825107
Jefferson4806107
Sandusky4780108
Seneca4702107
Washington465791
Athens465047
Mercer458780
Auglaize456180
Shelby441679
Knox4037101
Putnam399390
Madison393553
Fulton380658
Ashland380581
Defiance372583
Brown369844
Crawford358396
Logan355772
Preble353678
Clinton340852
Highland328349
Ottawa324369
Williams302662
Jackson290545
Champaign288149
Guernsey287844
Perry269847
Fayette269141
Morrow260334
Henry246658
Hardin245858
Holmes243293
Coshocton237454
Van Wert229854
Gallia222631
Adams217036
Pike215626
Wyandot210447
Hocking194554
Carroll181341
Paulding160530
Meigs135730
Noble129233
Monroe117027
Morgan101119
Harrison100624
Vinton76613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 24°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 20°
Huntington
Cloudy
29° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 29°
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 24°
Lima
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 22°
Sunny, Cooler Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events