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Speleology experts assess Playa del Carmen sinkhole

Playa del Carmen, Q.R. — Authorities analyzing the newly formed sinkhole in the middle of a Playa del Carmen street say it is not from a cavern. Roberto Rojo, president of the Mayab Speleological Circle, confirmed their groups finding on Thursday.

Rojo, along with two others, entered the small space and, with specialized map caving instruments, were able to identify the problem. Rojo explained that the newly formed space that caused the sinkhole was once filled. It was filled with material used to level the road. However, the collapse was likely caused by a infiltration of water that ended up softening the subsoil, creating a vacuum and collapsing the ground.

“There was originally a hollow there and this hollow was filled with material to level the street when it was built. Either by natural infiltration, because somewhere nearby there is a leak, or for some other reason, all this material that was there has been washing away.

“This happened over time. It is not something recent,” he said noting that they found garbage of bottles and plates “that somehow got inside” the cavern. “Elements related to the cavernous bodies that abound in the region were not detected,” he added.

“We went to verify that there was not a cave there, that we did not have the existence of a thousand-year-old cave down there and we did not find any elements that would suggest that.

“That is to say, we did not find stalactites or stalagmites or the fauna that is normally associated with these ecosystems. There was not a cave there as has happened in other places,” he explained.

Rojo has suggested to the city that authorities keep the area under surveillance due to the risk of a another underground slide. They have been advised to also carry out a soil mechanics study to verify the entire underground area and find the source of infiltration so they can fill in the void.

The sinkhole has been sectioned off since it is in the middle of Avenida 1 Sur, between 30 and 35 Streets.

“Yesterday, when we were there, many people skipped the yellow Civil Protection tape which is very dangerous because that area is very weak and it can collapse again, which could mean an accident,” he stated.