News about mysterious holes usually starts with, “In Siberia today …,” but the latest stories are coming instead from India, where large holes began mysteriously appearing in three villages in mid-November and quickly spread to three more. These sinkholes aren’t hot and smoking (yet) like the ones that opened in another village this summer but residents are understandably alarmed and waiting for some explanations and instructions.
The holes are opening in villages in Kapada, a city in the state of Andhra Pradesh on the southeastern coast of India. The villages first hit were Nayanoripalle, Peddamusalreddipalle and the mandal (administrative division) of Chintakomma Dinne. The sinkholes in Nayanoripalle measured up to 25 meters (82 feet) wide and 10 meters (33 feet) deep. Residents were terrified as the sinkholes reportedly emitted deafening sounds as they opened. Officials called for the evacuation of Nayanoripalle as the holes widened and increased in number. In Chintakomma Dinne mandal, a dozen sinkholes formed near a temple and a water tower on a 15-foot pedestal reportedly disappeared into the ground.
While teams from the Geological Survey of India assessed the damages in those villages, new holes opened in the nearby villages of Goodavandlapalle, Buggaletipalle and Buggalapalle in early December. Banana plants disappeared down sinkholes that measured up to 6 meters (20 feet) in diameter and farmers are afraid to enter their fields on tractors or even on foot.
While heavy rains and dissolving limestone have caused sinkholes in Kapada before, the size, number, sound and fast appearance of these new ones frightens local residents. As the holes continue to appear and swallow farms, homes and large tracts of land, officials are at a loss to explain possible causes and people are demanding more resources. As one farmer put it:
The government must press into service scientists to ascertain the reasons for the formation of sinkholes and dispel fears of people.
While the residents of Kapada wait for answers, where will these mysterious holes appear next?