Advertisement

Huge sinkhole opens in downtown Ottawa

Click to play video: 'Buildings evacuated after giant sinkhole opens up in Ottawa'
Buildings evacuated after giant sinkhole opens up in Ottawa
WATCH ABOVE: The ground opened up in the nation's capital Wednesday. A sinkhole opened up just a few blocks from Parliament Hill. Police scrambled to close off the area and buildings had to be evacuated amid fears of a gas leak. Mike Le Couteur reports from the scene – Jun 8, 2016

A large sinkhole opened Wednesday morning near one of the busiest intersections in downtown Ottawa, prompting officials to evacuate several nearby buildings and a construction site deep below street level.

When the hole first formed, it was large enough to swallow at least one vehicle but then seemed to grow suddenly to stretch across the entire four-lane street.

A dramatic video posted on Twitter showed a van being swallowed.

Story continues below advertisement

At an afternoon news conference, city officials — including Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson — told reporters that the precise cause of the sinkhole near the corner of Sussex Drive and Rideau Street has not been determined. A water main break was originally blamed, and water could be seen gushing into the hole from a nearby pipe.

WATCH: No injuries or missing persons reported following massive sinkhole

Click to play video: 'No injuries or missing persons reported following massive sinkhole: mayor of Ottawa'
No injuries or missing persons reported following massive sinkhole: mayor of Ottawa

 

There is ongoing construction work in the area linked to Ottawa’s new light-rail transit system, scheduled to open in 2018. Workers were actually in the tunnel being constructed deep beneath Rideau Street when the sinkhole opened at street level.

They evacuated immediately, according to Watson, and none were injured.

“At this point we do not have any record of any injuries or any missing persons,” the mayor noted. “I’m proud of our emergency response.”

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: Rideau Centre shopper describes mall evacuation

Click to play video: 'Ottawa sinkhole: Rideau Centre shopper describes mall evacuation'
Ottawa sinkhole: Rideau Centre shopper describes mall evacuation

 

The soil in that area of downtown Ottawa is softer than in other sections of the proposed light-rail line, officials confirmed, but it’s unclear if the soil conditions, or the tunnelling, were to blame for the sinkhole.

Watson called the situation “serious.” It is unclear when the street might re-open to traffic, and the public is being strongly urged to avoid the area.

Story continues below advertisement

This is the second sinkhole to open up since the city began working on the 2.5-kilometre tunnel. In 2014, a 12-metre deep sinkhole opened up near Laurier Avenue and Waller Street.

Water service was disrupted Wednesday to over 800 customers in the immediate area, according to Hydro Ottawa.

OC Transpo reported that Rideau St. had been closed to all traffic from Sussex Dr. to Dalhousie St. All buses serving the Rideau Centre stops were being re-directed to the Mackenzie King Bridge transit station.

https://twitter.com/mitchmcewen_/status/740559394262384640

Not long after the sinkhole opened up, it already had its own Twitter account.

Story continues below advertisement

Massive sinkhole opens up downtown Ottawa, Rideau Centre evacuated

Click to play video: 'Massive sinkhole opens up downtown Ottawa, Rideau Centre evacuated'
Massive sinkhole opens up downtown Ottawa, Rideau Centre evacuated
OTTAWA SINKHOLE

Sponsored content

AdChoices