Officials Search for Answers to IHOP Parking Lot Collapse

Investigators look into cause of the rupture as crews work to pull out cars.

ByABC News
November 9, 2015, 12:24 PM

— -- Officials in Meridian, Miss., are still trying to determine the cause of a massive rupture that swallowed more than a dozen cars in the parking lot of an IHOP this past Saturday night.

City contractors will begin lifting vehicles from the 30-foot ditch today as engineers survey the scene. Although previous reports labeled the opening as a "sinkhole," Public Safety Director Buck Roberts told ABC News that officials are referring to it as a "draining structure collapse."

"It's major damage," Roberts said. "The main thing is no one was hurt. The building is in tact. The manager did an excellent job of evacuating."

IHOP will remain closed throughout the investigation.

IHOP Spokesman Craig Hoffman said in a statement that the company is thankful there were no injuries.

"Our primary concern continues to be the safety of our guests and team members -- therefore, the restaurant will remain closed until all necessary repairs have been completed," he said.

Roberts said the only damage was in the parking lot. Officers reported to the scene of the accident at about 7:15 p.m. on Nov. 7. Onlookers feared an earthquake had occurred.

Work on the foundation of the IHOP is expected to start Wednesday according to ABC affiliate WTOK.

Local hotels and other restaurants were without water over the weekend, Roberts said. Drivers by passing the scene have also been causing disruption, he noted.

"We're asking people to please remember not to slow down and take pictures," Roberts said. "You can stop and walk up to it, but don't stop on the interstate."

Hoffman assured IHOP fans that the Meridian location will be back in business.

"When this new location opened four days ago, we were excited to be able to serve our friends and neighbors in Meridian, and we look forward to being able to reopen as soon as possible so that we can continue to be able to do so and be a member of this great community," he said.