Sinkhole swallows Disney World-area resort villa

Posted By KATE STANTON, UPI.com   |   Aug. 12, 2013 at 5:58 PM   |   Comments

Aug. 12 (UPI) -- A 100-foot-wide sinkhole opened up beneath the Summer Bay Resort complex about 10 minutes from Disney World on Sunday, forcing guests to flee their collapsing vacation rooms.

According to witnesses, guests could hear cracking sounds in the building about 15 minutes before it all came down. When windows started breaking, a security guard rushed around to evacuate the area.

Though no one was injured, many people lost important belongings -- like car keys and identification.

One woman was in the bathtub when the sinkhole opened.

Summer Bay Resort President Paul Caldwell said he was devastated by the news.

"Our goal is to have everyone have a great vacation for the rest of the week. We're going to do everything in our power to see that happens," he said. "My heart sunk; sick to my stomach. I had just gotten a call this morning, very early, and flipped the TV on and there you folks were."

Many residents credited security guard Richard Shanley with helping to evacuate the whole building.

"It was just a lot of popping noise, the ceiling was coming down," he said. "I had to run literally end to end of the building to get people out. As you are running by, pieces of the building are falling down around you, so you just do what you can and get out and take care of the situation at hand."

Florida's extreme weather, heavy development and limestone and clay foundations make the state especially at risk for sinkholes.

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