Florida man swallowed by sinkhole presumed dead

Engineers work in front of a home where sinkhole opened up underneath a bedroom and swallowed a man in Seffner, Fla. Friday, March 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Authorities say that a Florida man is likely dead after a sinkhole opened up under his bedroom and swallowed him.

The man, 36, went to bed in his home in a Tampa, Florida suburb Thursday night when the sinkhole opened up. He screamed for help, and his brother jumped into the hole, but was not able to rescue him, reports CNN.

“He was laying down in bed. We just got home from work,” the man’s brother told CNN. “I heard a loud crash, like a car coming through the house.”

Five other people, including a child, were safely rescued from the home.

“I feel in my heart he didn’t make it,” the man’s brother later told reporters. “There were six of us in the house; five got out.”

The sinkhole is estimated to be about nine metres (30 feet) deep.

Authorities tried to use a camera to look in the hole, but they have not been able to search beyond that because of fears that the home will collapse.

“He’s down there but we can’t hear anything and we can’t see anything,” Ronnie Rivera, a Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesman told the Orlando Sentinel. “We can’t confirm anything but it’s been several hours.”

Later in the day, fire rescue spokeswoman Jessica Damico said there have been no signs of life.

The AP reports that a county official told reporters the house is “seriously unstable”  and the sinkhole is expected to grow.

Florida is no stranger to sinkholes, as this map from the state’s geological survey demonstrates. As most stories about this week’s tragedy have noted, in 1981 a sinkhole near Orlando swallowed a house, five cars at a Porsche dealership and part of the town’s swimming pool.

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