Giant Sinkhole Swallows Car in Germany

After Montréal, Guatemala, Tampa, and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, another giant sinkhole has appeared, this time in the German town of Schmalkalden, making 2010 the "Year of the Sinkhole."

The hole—200 feet across and 80 feet deep—greeted residents of Schmalkalden, a town of 20,000 in the state of Thuringia, on Monday morning. Locals awoke in the early hours of morning to a deep rumble and saw this massive crater upon sunrise:

All Schmalkaldeners escaped with their lives, but the hole claimed an automobile and left several others teetering over the edges of radically reconstructed driveways.

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Experts are yet to determine what caused the crater to develop, but its circular shape is characteristic of sinkholes, which are created by the dissolution of

Giant Sinkhole Swallows Car in Germany

carbonate rocks undeground. There comes a point when the dissolved rock can no longer support the weight of structures above and it is around this point when you should run for your life.

If you crave more of this fine example of extreme infrastructure, Der Spiegel and The Guardian have further photos of the incident.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jens Meyer