A three-year-old boy was rescued by his father after falling into a sinkhole in the sand at Orcombe Point on Exmouth Beach in Devon, southwest England on Wednesday 26 April 2017. The sinkhole is described as measuring 1.2 m across, and swallowed the boy up to his waist before he was pulled out. The incident could potentially have been more serious had not the boy's father, who is a structural engineer and quickly recognised the nature of the problem, acted promptly. The area around the sinkhole has been cordoned off by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
The scene of the 26 April 2017 Orcombe Point sinkhole. East Devon District Council.
Sinkholes are generally caused by water eroding soft limestone or unconsolidated deposits from beneath, causing a hole that works its way upwards and eventually opening spectacularly at the surface. Where there are unconsolidated deposits at the surface they can infill from the sides, apparently swallowing objects at the surface, including people, without trace.
In this case the sinkhole is thought to have been caused by a leak from a water pipe running beneath the beach, which washed away soft sediments beneath the surface, causing the hole to form.
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