In Depth

Sinkhole swallows up campsite in Australia – video

Footage shows incredible scenes as shore completely gives way

A giant sinkhole has swallowed up a number of tents, caravans and cars in Queensland, Australia, with fears that it may grow as the ocean currents change.

Around 140 holidaymakers were forced to flee the MV Beagle campsite at Inskip Beach as the sinkhole began to open up at around 11pm on Saturday.

In the footage captured by helicopters, holidaymakers can be seen watching and taking photos as the ocean ripples and the outline of debris can be seen on the surface of the water.

One woman had apparently run through nearby campsites, screaming at people to wake up and get out, ABC reports.

Another described the experience in a Facebook post. "Yep, can't believe we made it out," wrote Melanie Wotherspoon. "I thought we were goners for sure, was truly scary how fast it came into our campsite and swallowed it up."

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services (QPWS) said the sinkhole is three metres deep, 150 metres wide and takes up a large part of the MV Beagle campsite.

Holiday-maker Casey Hughes told ABC it "sounded like a thunder noise" as it opened up.

Another camper said it was "amazing" to see. "People were basically on the edge of it with their van, trying to madly get their vans out," she said.

One eyewitness said he had been fishing with another man on the beach when they heard a commotion and looked around to see the ground opening up.

He said the second man raced back to his campsite as he saw his car and caravan going under.

Sydney University researcher Dr Armstrong Osborne told Australian Nine news that the phenomenon did not appear to be a "traditional sinkhole" caused by the collapse of caves made by soluble rock.

"What I've seen in the image suggests that a very large lump of something has given way, and it may be due to undermining by the sea," he said. "But until I can find what the actual bedrock is at the shoreline, it's quite unclear what's going on."

In recent years sinkholes of a similar size have been reported in China and the US, with one man being completely swallowed up in Florida in 2013.

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