Giant sinkhole swallows busy intersection in Japan

Power outages and traffic disruption plagued the southwestern Japanese city of Fukuoka yesterday after a 30-metre-long sinkhole swallowed part of a busy intersection.

The cave-in began around 5:15am near JR Hakata railway station, a major regional hub, and it eventually deepened into a 15-metre-deep pit 27 metres wide, Nikkei Asian Review reported.

Underground electrical and gas lines were severed, cutting off supplies to surrounding buildings.

One woman in her 70s suffered minor injuries from a fall during the blackout, reports Nikkei.

City officials are blaming the sinkhole on a project to expand the city-run subway.

Water and soil appear to have burst through a layer of clay into a subway tunnel under construction, weakening the ground holding up the road.

It’s a recurring problem in Japan, with similar sinkholes opening up in Tokyo in 2012 and 2015.

"Japan is rich in groundwater, and the same type of disaster can occur anywhere," Satoru Shimobe, professor at Nihon University, told Nikkei. "Construction projects require careful ground surveys."

Image: The sinkhole appeared on 8 November 2016 in front of JR Hakata rail station in Fukuoka, Japan (Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images)

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