A man who was sucked into a sinkhole that spontaneously opened in a swimming pool in Israel has been found dead.
As reported by The Times of Israel, rescue operations took four hours before emergency services recovered the man’s body on July 21 from the 43-foot-deep hole. Later identified as 32-year-old Klil Kimhi, the exact cause of his death — whether he drowned, was crushed or died from the fall — remains unknown.
A video posted on social media shows the floor of the swimming pool, located in a private home in Karmei Yosef, central Israel, buckles and collapses inward, absorbing most of the pool water within seconds. Two men were swept into a vortex that pulled them into the sinkhole.
One of the 34-year-old men managed to climb out, while Kimhi was later found dead. Six people were in the pool at the time and the rest were unharmed.
According to the US Geological Survey, while there are several ways sinkholes can form, they usually occur when the ground below the land surface dissolves into groundwater and washes away, leaving an open cavity covered only by a thin layer of ground.
Sinkholes are frequent in areas where the rocks are made of limestone, carbonate rock or salt beds. Human action can also cause sinkholes to form, with groundwater pumping and construction practices that alter the natural ground structure and water drainage patterns.
The larger the chasm below the land surface, the more dramatic the sinkhole: sometimes entire cars or even houses can fall to the ground when the thin surface layer finally gives way. In the United States, states experiencing the most sinkhole-induced damage include Florida, Texas, Alabama, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania.
In Florida in 2010, over 100 sinkholes formed in Dover during a single freeze event, when farmers overwatered their crops to protect them from the cold, causing groundwater levels to drop tremendously.
In Israel, search teams built a support structure to prevent the pool floor from collapsing further on them as they searched for the missing man. The search was complicated by the fact that there may have been secondary tunnels connected to the main drain tunnel which could later also collapse, which would be very dangerous for the rescue teams.
Police at the scene in Israel said they were opening an investigation into the death and would investigate the license involved in the construction of the pool. In accordance The Times of Israel, local police have “interrogated the owner of the home on suspicion of negligent homicide”. It said the owner had not applied for a permit prior to the construction of the pool.
Newsweek has asked the police for comment.