Visitors staying at a resort near Walt Disney World were rushed to safety overnight after a nearly 50-foot wide sinkhole swallowed part of the building in which they were staying. No one was injured.
Around 20 people were inside the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, Fla., when, at around 10 p.m. Sunday, a guest notified a security guard that a window popped in one of the rooms. Reports that a second window had popped prompted an evacuation order for the guests, according to The Associated Press.
By 3 a.m. Monday, an entire section of the resort villa, a complex of 24 apartments located 10 miles west of Walt Disney World, had collapsed into the sinkhole.
“We were trying to doze off and we heard some shaking, glass breaking and we thought maybe it was just kids running up and down the hall,” guest Maggie Ghamry told local ABC affiliate WFTV. “Next thing we know, we hear people screaming, ‘Get out of the building. Get out of the building.’”
Witnesses described the sinkhole’s impact as “like a car hitting the building” and said the resort descended into chaos in the dark when the building’s power went out.
“One person had to break out of a window because the doorframe collapsed and it was him and his wife and an infant,” said a witness. “He had to break the window just so that they could escape.”
“Right now the three-story building looks like a two-story building and it’s just chaos,” reported another witness.
All 20 guests staying at the villa were evacuated safely and given other accommodations on the resort’s property.
“Our goal is to have everyone have a great vacation for the rest of the week. We’re going to do everything in our power to see that happens,” said Summer Bay Resorts President Paul Caldwell, according to WFTV. “My heart sunk; sick to my stomach. I had just gotten a call this morning, very early, and flipped the TV on and there you folks were.”
Fears that the sinkhole is getting deeper also prompted authorities to evacuate a nearby villa and shut off the resort’s gas line.
Caldwell said the resort underwent geological testing when it was built 15 years ago and that those results showed the ground to be stable, according to The Associated Press.
In Florida last March a man was swallowed by a sinkhole when his home’s foundation collapsed. Nearly three months later, a Bob Evans restaurant located a few miles from the man’s home was evacuated after employees discovered cracks in the restaurant’s walls and floors.