In pictures: sinkholes, craters and collapsed roads around the world (25pics)
In May 2010, a huge, almost perfectly circular, sinkhole measuring 66 feet (20 m) wide and 100 feet (30 m) deep suddenly opened up, swallowing a three-storey building and a house in Guatemala City. Authorities blamed heavy rains caused by tropical storm Agatha.
In December 2001, a house in Waihi, New Zealand, collapsed into a huge hole measuring 50 metres wide and 15 metres deep. A family of five, including three young children, escaped serious injury despite their home crashing into a chasm created by an old mine shaft collapsing in the middle of the night.
In November 2010, a giant crater suddenly opened up in a family home in Guilin, southern China's Guangxi Province. The pit formed at around 2:30 am when the members of the family were all in bed. Homeowner Zeng Pengqi said: We heard a loud cracking sound and the ground was shaking. We thought it was an earthquake. The family raced outside but was bewildered to find that no other homes were shaking; venturing back inside they discovered that a huge 2m deep pit had mysteriously opened up in one of the downstairs rooms.
An aerial photo shows a massive crater that appeared in a residential street in Schmalkalden, Germany, in November 2010
Demolition crews work at a home in Tampa, Florida, where a sinkhole opened last week underneath a bedroom, swallowing a man asleep in his bed. Jeff Bush, 37, was declared presumed dead by Hillsborough County officials on Sunday as rescue workers abandoned any hope of recovering his body. The hole was about 30 feet (9 metres) wide and 60 feet (18 metres) deep and filled with clay and debris. It is unlikely that Bush's body will ever be retrieved, officials said.
A man looks at a house that started leaning after a tunnel collapse in the Russian Black sea resort of Sochi in March 2013. The house, unnocupied at the time, began leaning after a tunnel on a nearby road construction project collapsed.
In June 2012, a 70-year-old woman had to be rescued by firefighters after the path beneath her feet crumbled and she plunged five metres down into a pit without warning. Firefighters set about making the opening larger and they were able to bring the woman up to safety. She was checked over by medical staff and was found to be suffering several fractures but no life threatening injuries.
A firefighter is lowered down into a 10m deep pit that suddenly opened up on a road in Harbin city, China, in August 2012. Two people were killed and two others injured...
...One of the injured was a 14-month old baby girl who was rescued from the pit by a firefighter.
In August 2009, a road in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, suddenly sank, causing one taxi and three motobikes to fall into the hole
April 2011: Rescuers work at the site of a road cave-in in the Fengtai district of Beijing. A truck was trapped in the pit but the driver was rescued and no casualties were reported.
A huge 20-metre wide (66 ft) sinkhole formed overnight in the yard of a family home in Leshan, southwest China's Sichuan Province in January 2011. Zhang Fengrong said he heard a loud roaring sound coming from outside. When he went to investigate he was stunned to discover the huge pit. He said he and several relatives had tried to measure the depth of the pit using a rope attached to a heavy iron, but after they used up the 40-metre long rope the iron still hadn't hit ground.
In August 2010, a hole suddenly opened up in a road in Taiyuan, China, causing the collapse of part of the nearby building of the Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital an hour later. No casualties were reported in the accident.
In January 2007, a huge crater opened at the construction site of the Pinheiros subway station in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Officials said a passenger minivan had fallen to the bottom of a 40-metre (130-foot)-deep pit dug to facilitate delivery of supplies for workers, and the lip of the hole gave way to a landslide, taking with it vehicles on a roadway around the edge and dumping tons of earth, asphalt and concrete on them.
January 2013: People look at a caved-in area of a paddy field in Fukou county, Hunan province, China. More than 20 pits have formed in the area during the past four months. According to the local media, the government's initial investigation showed years of mining has destroyed the local underground water systems.
This huge sinkhole suddenly appeared in July 2012 on a main road in Changsha, capital of southern China's Hunan Province. The enormous hole opened up at around 1am and swallowed up a car - killing one and injuring a further three people.
Rescuers look for survivors after a building collapsed into a large hole in Guangzhou, China, in January 2013. The demolition was caused by the construction of a metro line and left a nine-metre deep hole in the ground.
In September 2009, four firefighters escaped injury when their fire engine sunk into a large hole caused by a burst water main in the San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles
In May 2011, an overloaded lorry crashed through the middle of a bridge in Changchun, Jilin Province, China
March 2013: People stand beside an enormous hole in the ground in Guangyuan, a village in southwest China's Sichuan province. The hole currently measures 24.9 metres in diameter and residents fear the pit will continue to grow until it starts swallowing nearby houses.
A taxi is lifted out of a 3m deep sinkhole that suddenly opened up in Handan city, Hebei province, northern China, in August 2012
In August 2012, a tanker truck driver had a shock while driving along a road in Harbin in China's Heilongjiang province as a sinkhole suddenly opened up. The back half of the truck was engulfed by the hole, while the rest of the truck was left lying on its side on the road.
June 2012: A car sits in a giant sinkhole in Duluth, Minnesota, after flash floods caused by torrential rain
A truck hangs over the edge of a sinkhole that opened up in the parking lot of Hughes Relocation Services in Salt Springs, Florida, in June 2012
A tourist peers into the Darvaza Gates Of Hell gas crater in the Karakum Desert, Turkmenistan. The eerie cavern has been on fire for more than 40 years. It was discovered in 1971 by Soviet geologists when the ground beneath their drilling rig suddenly collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of 70 metres (230 ft). As the huge crater was filled with potentially poisonous natural gas the decision was made to set it alight. Scientists expected it to burn itself out within a few days, but the fire is still as fierce as ever.