While sinkholes can be explained by science (erosion, mining, and water main breaks are the typical culprits), unanticipated appearances sometimes lead witnesses to interpret them as an act of God, or even proof of End Times.
And why not? These giant holes can wreck vehicles and buildings with shocking speed. In February, a sinkhole swallowed a suburban Tampa home and the 36-year-old man in its bedroom. His body was never recovered. Six months later, a 60-foot-wide sinkhole formed underneath a central Florida resort. Possessions were lost, but the guests evacuated in time. "I've always said it's a given that when you move to Florida you get beaches, sunshine, hurricanes and sinkholes," a Florida Geological Survey scientist, told the Guardian earlier this year.
The latest addition to this list is in Xi'an, China, and it was caused by an aging water pipe explosion beneath a local road. In that same city, a local truck driver escaped unharmed along another street after a sinkhole swallowed his rig from behind earlier this year. Incredibly, no fatalities or significant injuries occurred in either instance.
Below, Reuters offers a few of the most terrifying examples from 2013: