'Sixth' sinkhole destroys house in Ripon, North Yorkshire and forces three homes to be evacuated

Police cleared properties around the huge 25ft-wide crater and said no one had been harmed

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The Independent Online

Yet another sinkhole has opened up in flood-hit Britain, the sixth this month, leaving one house on the brink of collapse and two more homes evacuated.

Police were called in at around 5.40pm yesterday after a 25ft-wide crater appeared underneath properties on Magdalen's Close in Ripon, North Yorkshire.

A fire service spokesperson said they had “successfully rescued” a dog at the property, and that there were no occupiers present at the time.

Last night police officers went from house to house warning neighbours about what had happened, as the British Geological Society warned that Ripon is one of the most at-risk areas for sinkholes in the whole country.

The region in north-east England is known for its large deposits of gypsum, a soft material that dissolves much quicker than the surrounding limestone - particularly after persistent heavy rainfall.

Images from the scene showed extensive damage to the affected property, and the fire service called in specialist engineers amid fears it would collapse.

The sinkhole is believed to be the sixth to have opened up across built-up areas and transport routes this month alone.

A house and three flats were evacuated after a crater opened up in a back garden in Croxley Green, near Watford on Sunday.

On Saturday, 17 homes were evacuated after a giant 35ft-wide and 20ft-deep hole appeared in a quiet cul-de-sac in Hemel Hempstead, also in Hertfordshire.

Last week a 10-mile stretch of the M2 in north Kent was closed after a 15ft-deep hole was discovered in the central reservation, while in Barnehurst, southeast London a crater appeared just feet from a child's trampoline.

And at the start of February a teenager's car was swallowed up into a 30ft-deep sinkhole on a family's driveway in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

In Ripon, where an ambulance was stood down after it became apparent there had again been no injuries caused by the sinkhole, Local resident Barry Dyason, 34, said: “Most of the people from the emergency services seem to have gone now, it's mainly people from the utility companies who are still there.

“This area is quite well known for gypsum deposits, and there have been properties affected by subsidence - but not sinkholes, that I've heard of.

“There's been some rain around here, but nothing like the floods seen in other parts of the country.

“It's alarming, you see these things reported on television but don't expect it to happen so close to you. Hopefully lightning wouldn't strike twice in such a small area.”

Another sinkhole has appeared in Hemel Hempstead