Call it the sinkhole tumble heard around the web.
A teenage girl in north China was walking on a pavement while talking on her mobile phone, when she fell – suddenly, and without warning – into a sinkhole six metres deep.
Academic studies have shown that pedestrians are less aware of their environment and more prone to engaging in unsafe behaviour when they are talking on a mobile phone.
Tip: @unexplainedmys on Twitter
She was rescued and was OK, but here is what really bothered me about this story. Watch the video. Would anything have been different had she NOT been on her phone? Would she have noticed that the sidewalk was unstable? Probably not because THERE IS NO OBVIOUS INDICATION THERE IS A VOID UNDER THERE. She didn’t walk into a hole, the sidewalk panel collapsed underneath her.
Sure, many times you can spot sinkholes before they “pop” on the surface by noticing subtle tension cracks or a dip in the ground. But, we also see those all the time when there is no danger so we hardly notice.
It was wrong for the media to use the angle in this case that her cell phone use attributed to this accident.
Sinkholes are common in China and even in urban areas without geologic conditions that can cause them. I can’t find a cause attributed to this particular sinkhole but often in urban areas, leaky pipes wash out the supporting material and leave a void space that works its way to the surface and collapses.