Manchester sinkhole: Houses collapse and car swallowed as street suddenly opens up

Colin Drury
·2 min read
Collapsed homes in Walmer Street, Manchester (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service)
Collapsed homes in Walmer Street, Manchester (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service)

Two houses have partially collapsed after a massive sinkhole opened up on a Manchester road.

The fronts of the terraced properties crashed down when the ground collapsed in Walmer Street in the city’s Abbey Hey area.

The drama began late on Wednesday night when the gaping 10ft gap suddenly appeared, swallowing a car.

But on Thursday morning, hours after fire crews had evacuated the four nearest homes — and as engineers assessed the damage — two properties came tumbling down too.

“I'm hoping some things might be salvageable but it looks like the roof will collapse," said a 26-year-old woman who lives in one of the houses. “The upstairs looks like it's going to come down as well — it's got everything I own."

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, the single mother-of-four added: “I don't understand how my house has come down. I'm just trying to get it to sink in … my kids could have been in there."

Mobile phone footage caught the moment of collapse. In the video, an ominous rumble can be heard before a man off screen shouts: “Get back! Get back!”

Split seconds later, the walls come down.

United Utilities initially said the hole had been caused by a collapsing sewer. But it later altered its statement saying: "It is not known what caused the sinkhole but this will be investigated."

Possible lines of inquiry will include the factor heavy rain brought by Storm Christoph may have caused.

Visiting the scene, Afzal Khan, Labour MP for Gorton, called the events “incredibly distressing”.

He added: “My thoughts are with those whose properties have sustained damage or have been evacuated as a result of the sinkhole. I am grateful for the quick response of the emergency services to the situation, and I am hugely relieved that no one has been hurt.”

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