Engineers were at a loss this week to explain how a hole more than 100m deep appeared in an impoverished district of Guatemala City last month, swallowing several houses and a lorry. City mayor Alvaro Arzu blamed a saturated sewer main for the disaster but British experts thought that baffling and 'highly unusual'.
Halcrow senior water and waste water engineer Philip Rogers explained it is possible for a cracked sewer to carry away earth but not at the volumes required to cause this collapse. Rogers said the mayor's claim 'sounds far fetched. That volume of soil couldn't disappear down a sewer without being noticed or causing huge blockages.' Thames Water project construction engineer Arthur Gugan said an aquifer could create a swallow hole that when emptied of water would leave a large cavern behind but he added the largest swallow hole he had ever seen was 25m 3, not a patch on the Guatemala sinkhole.