A major sinkhole has swallowed vehicles at a popular camping spot near Queensland’s Rainbow Beach overnight.
The sinkhole, bigger than a football field and several metres deep, developed at Inskip Point around midnight.
Police said the hole opened up from about 11pm and was estimated to be about 150 metres by 50 metres and around three metres deep.
A four-wheel-drive, caravan and camper trailer sunk almost immediately.
One woman ran screaming through nearby campsites banging on caravans and yelling for people to get out.
About 140 people had been evacuated from the site, according to Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
Sky News reported one tourist lost his brand new, $150,000 campervan and car when the hole opened up, with others scrambling to get their possessions to safety.
The beach was closed to vehicle and pedestrian access, according to Sunshine Coast Daily.
Holiday-maker Casey Hughes told ABC the sinkhole “sounded like a thunder noise” as it opened up.
Fellow camper Sylvia Murray said “it was amazing to see”.
“People were basically on the edge of it with their van, trying to madly get their vans out,” she said.
‘I can’t believe we made it out’
Rainbow Beach newsagent Ruth Modin told Brisbane Times terrified campers had been evacuated at night and told to come back the next day.
“It was dark and they were told to leave their vans and come back in the morning and hopefully they would still be there,” Ms Modin said.
“There was fishermen apparently nearby who said there was this noise and the next thing the sand just started moving out to sea.”
This ABC video shows the extent of the damage.
“Can’t believe we all made it out, I thought we were gonners (sic) for sure, was truly scary how fast it came into our camp site and swallowed it all up,” Melanie Wotherspoon posted to social media.
One man said he had been fishing with another man on the beach when they heard a commotion and looked around to see the ground opening up.
He said the second man raced back to his campsite as he saw his car and caravan going under.
Sunshine Coast recovery experts Clayton’s Towing reported the sinkhole on Facebook overnight.
The company said two of their employees, who were camping 200 metres from the beach, were caught up in the mayhem.
Sinkhole unrelated to earthquakes
Geotechical engineer Allison Golsby told the ABC earthquakes could cause sinkholes but were not the cause in this instance.
“This area has a history where sinkholes occur regularly, it is something to do with the way sediments are formed and the way water moves through the Earth over millions of years or thousands of years,” Ms Golsby said.
“Sinkholes are basically those cavities coming to the surface.”
Police said no one was reported injured and everyone had been accounted for.
It was the second sinkhole to open in the area in the past four years after one appeared in 2011 at the same campsite. There were no injuries.
— Nine News Australia (@9NewsAUS) September 27, 2015