Customers received more than pancakes at a newly-opened IHOP restaurant in Meridian, Mississippi this weekend. A massive “sinkhole” opened up in the pancake house’s parking lot, swallowing at least a dozen cars in the process and shocked those within the vicinity.
Authorities say that the asphalt in the parking lot gave way sometime Saturday evening and the result was a massive sinkhole-like phenomena estimated to be about 35-feet wide, 375-feet long, and 30-feet deep. Thankfully, no injuries were reported and the area was promptly roped off by emergency officials. Crews started working to pull the hapless vehicles out of the pit on Monday.
Although the event was initially blamed on a sinkhole, Meridian Mayor Percy Bland has confirmed that the cave-in appears to be over the site of a former city culvert, which is a type of underwater drain. Dr. Greg Easston, of the University of Mississippi’s Geology and Geological Engineering Department, believes that the Meridian “sinkhole” was caused by the collapse of the culvert due to erosion and wear from the natural underground movement of water because of new construction in the area.
In a statement published by CNN, IHOP spokesman Craig Hoffman expressed his gratitude regarding the outcome of the event in that no one was injured.
“The cause of the sinkhole is still under investigation, and our primary concern continues to be the safety of our guests and team members,” Hoffman said.
The restaurant will remain closed until all necessary repairs are complete.