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Chicago sinkhole swallows three cars (VIDEO)

One person hospitalized after Southeast Side Chicago sinkhole swallows three cars, likely prompted by heavy rainfall.

Guatemala sinkhole 2011 07 21Enlarge
A man inspects a sinkhole formed in a house in Guatemala City on July 19, 2011. (Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images)

One person was hospitalized after a sinkhole suddenly opened up in damp Chicago's Southeast Side, swallowing three cars after it opened early Thursday.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the injured driver was transported to the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious-to-critical condition after they fell into hole, which swallowed up his vehicle as he attempted to carefully drive around it.

Read more from GlobalPost: Man trapped in massive Tampa sinkhole under his home

When fire crews arrived on the scene, they found two cars in the widening hole — and another parked vehicle slid into the hole as the rescue operation began, says NBC Chicago.

It's thought that the five inches of rain the Chicago area experienced on Wednesday night and early Thursday likely caused the sinkhole to open up in the South Deering neighborhood, wrote NBC Chicago.

The sinkhole is currently about 40 feet wide, notes WGNTV, and it's feared that the urban impediment may only grow larger as rain continues to fall — though the Chicago Water Management Department is attempting to pump water out of the catch basins located near the hole, in an effort to ease the pressure.

Sinkhole experts from the Florida Geological Survey note that rain-induced sinkholes can occur if a large amount of rain water produces pressure on the weak ceiling of a previously unnoticed cavern, causing it to cave in.

Shifting groundwater levels can also make conditions right for a sinkhole, which can then collapse when heavy rains hit.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/130418/chicago-sinkhole-swallows-three-cars