Giant sinkhole swallows vehicles at Queensland camp ground gallery video

A gigantic sinkhole erodes part of a camp site on a beach in Australia, plunging tents and cars into the water. Julie Noce reports.

A giant sink hole swallowed a car, a caravan, a camping trailer and some tents at a popular camp ground in Australia on Saturday night.

The 100-metre long sinkhole opened up at MV Beagle Campground, north of Queensland's Rainbow Beach at Inskip Point, forcing the evacuation of around 140 campers.

Police say the hole opened up slowly at about 10.30pm and initial reports estimated the sinkhole to be about 100 metres by 100 metres and around three metres deep.

Camper Melanie Wotherspoon described her horror in a Facebook post.

"Yep, can't believe we made it out," Wotherspoon wrote. "I thought we were goners for sure, was truly scary how fast it came into our camp site and swallowed it up."

A woman ran through nearby campsites, screaming at people to wake up and get out, the ABC reports.

Police and SES crews attended the site of the incident, where no-one was reported injured or missing.

Initial reports estimated the sinkhole to be about 100 metres by 100 metres.
Twitter / @NApolloni

Initial reports estimated the sinkhole to be about 100 metres by 100 metres.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service on Sunday morning urged people to stay away because the sinkhole could expand as ocean currents impacted on the existing sinkhole. 

Senior Ranger Dan Clifton said it is important for public safety that visitors avoid the area.

"There is a real possibility the hole could expand with ocean currents, so people are urged to avoid the area," Clifton said.

"Rangers and police have erected traffic barriers and warnings signs to advise beachgoers of potential risks.

"While we continue to assess the situation, our priority is public safety.

"The MV Beagle campsite has been closed to new campers, however, there are six alternative campgrounds at Inskip that remain open."

Some suggestions have linked the incident to a number of small earthquakes off the coast in recent weeks.

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In 2011, a similar sinkhole emerged at the same campsite, again with no injuries.

The camp ground is within a national park and staff from the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing are looking into the incident. 

'IT WAS PRETTY SCARY'

Rainbow Beach newsagent Ruth Modin said she was told fishermen near the camp ground may have raised the alarm on Saturday night with the campers. Modin said the fishermen nearby MV Beagle first saw the sand moving.

"There  was fishermen apparently nearby who said there was this noise and the next thing the sand just started moving out to sea," she said. "And suddenly there's this big sinkhole." 

She said she had seen a video - on a local police officer's phone - of the sinkhole with a caravan in it.

"But there had been not one mention of anyone being injured or anything like that," she said.

Modin said campers coming into the shop on Sunday morning spoke about being terrified after they were told to immediately evacuate the area on Saturday night.

"It was pretty scary," she said. "It was dark and they were told to leave their vans and come back in the morning and hopefully they would still be there.

"But you've got to evacuate immediately, they were told."

Modin said she was worried the incident would make people frightened to camp at Inskip Point.

"MV Beagle is just one little area, it is not the whole coastline or anything," she said.

"It's a fairly big hole, but there is plenty of beach either side of it."

- with AAP

 - Brisbane Times

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