Condos collapse into sinkhole near Disney World

A building at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, Fla, shows damage from collapsing into a sinkhole early Monday / Alma Rodriquez, AP

Engineers on Monday were trying to determine the extent of the damage after luxury resort condominiums crumbled into a massive sinkhole a few miles east of Disney World.

Dozens of guests at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, Fla., had only 10 to 15 minutes to escape the cracking, collapsing building, The Orlando Sentinel reports. No injuries were reported, but many fleeing guests left behind all their belongings — including medications.

About 30% of the three-story structure collapsed early Monday, Lake County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Tony Cuellar said. The villa at the Summer Bay Resort had already been evacuated and no injuries were reported.

“My heart sunk. I was sick to my stomach,” resort president Paul Caldwell told the Sentinel after getting a call about 10:30 p.m. Sunday that the 15-year-old building full of guests was splintering. “No doubt there would’ve been injuries if they hadn’t gotten the building evacuated.”

The sinkhole is about 50 feet in diameter and 15 feet deep. Firefighters went door-to-door of building 104, a three-story building of garden-style apartments, to help guests escape from the splintering and cracked building frame.

The villa houses 24 units and about 20 people were staying in it at the time, Cuellar said. The building was sheared nearly in half.

Caldwell told the Sentinel the displaced guests were relocated to other buildings. An adjacent building was also evacuated and 16 people had to leave, Cuellar told the Sentinel.

The American Red Cross was providing assistance at the scene.

Sinkholes, common in Florida, are a function of soft limestone disintegrating from acidic rainwater. Development, heavy rains and removal of groundwater can accelerate the erosion.

In March, a 50-foot deep sinkhole swallowed a home near Tampa. Jeffrey Bush, 37, was sleeping in that home at the time and was declared dead.

Luis Perez, who was staying at a condo building near the sinking one, said he was in his room when the lights went off around 11:30 p.m. He said he was on his way to the front desk to report the outage when he saw firefighters and police outside.

“I started walking toward where they were at and you could see the building leaning and you could see a big crack at the base of the building,” said Perez, 54, of Berona, N.J.

Contributing: Associated Press

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Categories: Natural Disasters, US News

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