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Sinkhole Swallows Man Alive

Tampa Bay Times

Even for Florida, it was a strange way to die.  Jeffrey Bush, 37,  was asleep in bed at his family's house in Seffner Thursday night when a hole suddenly opened under his bedroom, pulling him deep into the earth along with the furniture. 

Today, a "delicate demolition" of the home continues while the family tries to salvage whatever they can from the rubble, the Tampa Bay Times reports. 

On Friday, as the Tampa Tribune reported, authorities evacuated the houses on either side and attempted to find a way to recover Bush's body.   But by Saturday, authorities decidedthe ground was too unstable to allow further attempts.

The hole wasn't visible from outside the home, but was estimated to be about 30 feet wide and 50 feet deep.

On Sunday, the Tampa Tribunereported, an experienced backhoe operator peeled away layer after layer of the house until he could grab the family's personal items in the machine's bucket and move them to safety.  Members of the family, neighbors and local clergy stood watching from a safe distance away.

As this Department of Environmental Protection mapshows, west-central Florida is a hotbed of sinkholes, which occur when the underground limestone gradually dissolves to the point that the ground caves in. This phenomenon can have either natural or man-made causes.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.