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A giant sinkhole swallowed the front half of a bus in China on Monday, killing at least six people.
The public bus was making a stop by a hospital in China’s northwestern city of Xining, in Qinghai province, when the sinkhole opened up. The bus immediately tipped down toward the bottom of the hole.
CCTV footage that was posted online showed a harrowing scene in the moments after the sinkhole opening up. Pedestrians rushed to help people get out, and some of them fell in as the ground around the hole gave way. A lamp post to the right of the bus slowly descended before an explosion of some sort shot a fireball out of the sinkhole. Footage posted by onlookers to social media appeared to show the bus gradually sinking until it was nearly completely engulfed by the sinkhole.
Six people died and at least 16 more were injured, the BBC reported. State media has said the injured are in stable condition. The massive hole, which caved in around 5:30 p.m. local time on Monday, ended up expanding to be some 32 feet in diameter.
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Passerby Sun Wanhong, a retired police officer, was one of the people who got sucked into the sinkhole while trying to help out.
“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 said to state media, via CNN. “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.”
Sun reportedly suffered some broken bones but was able to climb out with some of the other victims.
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Images from the scene on Monday showed a crane eventually pulling the bus out of the sinkhole. The front windows were blasted out and the side of the bus was caked in mud.
Sinkholes aren’t uncommon in China and are often blamed on the rapid construction and expansion of cities. Four people were killed by a sinkhole in Dazhou in 2018, while three were killed in 2015 in Shenzhen. The cause of Monday’s sinkhole has not yet been determined.
Cover: Twitter/ABC News