Geologists Study Giant Guatemala Sinkhole Left in Wake of Tropical Storm Agatha

By Llana, Sara Miller | The Christian Science Monitor, June 2, 2010 | Go to article overview

Geologists Study Giant Guatemala Sinkhole Left in Wake of Tropical Storm Agatha


Llana, Sara Miller, The Christian Science Monitor


Scientists are studying how exactly the giant, cylindrical Guatemala sinkhole was formed, and how to prevent more. Meanwhile, the US is joining relief efforts to help the thousands left homeless by Tropical Storm Agatha.

Geologists are studying the giant Guatemala sinkhole that swallowed a Guatemala City street intersection during Tropical Storm Agatha on Saturday with an eye toward how to prevent a similar tragedy.

At 66-feet wide and 100-feet deep, the almost perfectly cylindrical hole so far has left more questions than answers.

"I can tell you what it's not: It's not a geological fault, and it's not the product of an earthquake," David Monterroso, a geophysics engineer at Guatemala's National Disaster Management Agency, told the Associated Press. "That's all we know. We're going to have to descend."

IN PICTURES: Guatemala sinkhole

While the Guatemala City sinkhole swallowed an entire three- story building, no one is listed as dead as a result. Residents in the area have moved out and scientists are studying the structural integrity of the hole and surrounding soil, in case it should widen. Meanwhile, the nation is turning its attention to relief operations, in the wake of Tropical Storm Agatha that left more than 180 dead and thousands homeless throughout Central America.

Rains this week will complicate the clean-up and recovery, but Cecilio Martinez, of World Vision in Guatemala City, says that residents who had been in shelters are beginning to return to their homes.

"This morning we are delivering food to those affected," says Mr. Martinez, by phone from Guatemala City. He says they will also be heading out to the most impacted areas, such as Chimaltenango, to deliver supplies needed like food and blankets. Dozens of roads and bridges have been damaged, slowing the relief efforts.

US helicopters help

US Southern Command's (SOUTHCOM) Joint Task Force Bravo deployed four military helicopters yesterday from the Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras to support the disaster relief efforts. They are conducting aerial assessments and transporting relief supplies to hard hit areas. …

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