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A motorist had a lucky escape after his car fell into a huge sinkhole in Essex following wild weather caused by Storm Ciara.
Homes were evacuated on a residential road in Brentwood after the Toyota became trapped nose-first in the sinkhole, with pictures from the scene showing the driver and passenger doors wide open and both airbags inflated.
It is believed that the car was being driven on the road when the sinkhole opened up, although the driver is said to have escaped uninjured.
Firefighters were called to Hatch Road, in the Pilgrims Hatch area, shortly after 1.30am on Monday following reports that a sewer had partially collapsed.
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service said crews reported that the hole had extended into the road and a car was trapped.
Six properties were evacuated in the early hours of the morning due to unstable ground.
Gordon Humphrey, who lives next to the sinkhole, told the PA news agency he and his wife heard a “bang”.
“The wife heard it. She thought a fence panel had popped out, then we looked and saw a car in the hole,” the 60-year-old said.
Six properties evacuated after sewer collapse.
— Essex Fire Service (@ECFRS) February 10, 2020
“You could hear the water bubbling, see the taillights and there was a smell of gas.”
The highways officer said that he saw someone, who he did not believe to be the driver, in the front of the car with water up to the seats.
“He was sitting in there trying to find something,” he told PA. “He said his mate was in shock.”
Mr Humphrey said his wife Lesley, 59, called the emergency services and they were told to leave the house before it was later declared safe to return.
The fire service said they worked to make the scene safe by 3.53am, before handing the scene over to Anglian Water.
An Anglian Water spokesman said: “We are currently on site on Hatch Road, Pilgrims Hatch, in Brentwood investigating a sink hole which has opened up in the road.
“We are working with other utilities (water and gas) plus the local police to assess if any of our pipes have been damaged.”
The process of removing the vehicle from the hole, thought to be about two metres deep, began shortly before midday on Monday.
After it was removed engineers began working on the large hole, which is partially filled with water.
Storm Ciara brought a month and a half’s rainfall in just 24 hours as gusts of more than 90 miles per hour swept across the country on Sunday.
Thousands of people were left without power, some homes were evacuated, buildings were damaged and sporting fixtures postponed.