Mar 2 2013
Engineers are working carefully to find out more about a slowly growing sinkhole that swallowed a Florida man in his bedroom, believing the entire house could eventually succumb to the unstable ground.
Jeff Bush, 37, was in his bedroom on Thursday night when the earth opened and took him and everything else in his room. Five other people were in the house but managed to escape unharmed.
Mr Bush's brother jumped into the hole to try to help, but he had to be rescued himself by a sheriff's deputy.
Engineers are carrying out more tests, while crews with equipment are investigating at the home next door, one of two that have been evacuated.
Officials moved media crews further away from the Bush house so experts could perform tests on the home across the street. It was unclear how large the sinkhole is, or whether it leads to other caverns and chasms throughout the neighbourhood. Experts say the underground of West Central Florida looks similar to Swiss cheese, with the geography lending itself to sinkholes.
Experts spent the previous day at the property, taking soil samples and running various tests - while acknowledging that the entire lot where Mr Bush lay entombed was dangerous. No-one was allowed in the house.
"I cannot tell you why it has not collapsed yet," Bill Bracken, the owner of an engineering company called to assess the sinkhole, said of the home. He described the earth below as a "very large, very fluid mass".
"This is not your typical sinkhole," said Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill. "This is a chasm. For that reason, we're being very deliberate."
Officials delicately addressed another sad reality: Mr Bush is probably dead and his family want his body. Mr Merrill said, however, that they do not want to jeopardise any more lives. "They would like us to go in quickly and locate Mr Bush," he said.
Officials said that a fund had been set up to help families affected by the sinkhole.