Huge street sinkhole disrupts services, forces evacuations near Fukuoka’s Hakata Station
Nov 8 2016
FUKUOKA – A huge sinkhole opened up beneath a major road in downtown Fukuoka on Tuesday morning, disrupting traffic, power supplies and banking systems, with local authorities evacuating nearby areas for fear of more cave-ins.
The police and the city office said they have yet to receive any injury reports.
The site is around the area where construction work is under way to extend the city subway system’s Nanakuma Line. The police and the city are investigating to determine if the sinkhole was caused by the work.
The police are blocking nearby areas and calling on people in buildings near the accident site to evacuate the area.
The road apparently caved in around 5:15 a.m. at an intersection near JR Hakata Station in the capital of the prefecture, the city office said.
TV footage showed the hole filled with water from underground channels.
The city evacuated buildings including several offices near the site at 9:45 a.m., saying there were signs the cave-in could cause buildings to collapse.
Police also told nearby offices and households not to use gas, fearing gas leaks.
The Bank of Fukuoka said its online systems appeared to have been disrupted by the accident.
Fukuoka airport also temporarily experienced blackouts, forcing ticket machines to stop working briefly.
As of 10 a.m., the sinkhole had expanded to 30 meters long, 27 meters wide and 15 meters deep.
Some 800 households were affected by blackouts early in the morning, but power was restored gradually, reducing the number of affected households to about 170 as of 9:20 a.m., according to Kyushu Electric Power Co.
“When I came to the office, police instructed us to get out of the building. It seems like I need to stay at home for now,” said Tsuyoshi Ito, 48, who works near the accident site.
Another person who was in a nearby building said: “The lights suddenly went out and there was a big heavy sound. When I went out, there was a huge hole.”
In the past few years, there have been cases in which underground construction work has caused roads to cave in.
In October 2014, about three meters of road in the city of Fukuoka caved in several meters near where construction to move sewage was under way. No one was injured.
Last December, a sidewalk located in front of a building construction site in the city of Nagoya caved in about 5 meters deep. No one was injured but the site was about 300 meters from the Nagoya Railroad Co.’s Nagoya Station. A construction failure in a concrete wall between the sidewalk and the construction was blamed for the cause.
Also in Nagoya in June, several roads and part of a park sunk in near a site where construction was under way to build a tunnel to store rainwater.