Couple arrested after Israeli man dies when sinkhole opens underneath swimming pool

A man died after a massive sinkhole opened underneath the swimming pool at a home in Israel on Thursday, officials said. Photo courtesy of Israeli Fire and Rescue Service/Twitter

July 23 (UPI) — A man died after a massive sinkhole opened underneath the swimming pool at a home in Israel on Thursday, officials said. The couple that owns the home has since been arrested on suspicion of negligent manslaughter.

The man was attending a pool party with about 50 coworkers at a home in the town of Kermi Yosef, about 25 miles outside of Tel Aviv, when the ground collapsed into a hole 43 feet deep leaving him and another person trapped, the Israeli Fire and Rescue Service said in a statement.

Video footage shared to Twitter by the news outlet Israel Today showed water and inflatable pool toys in the pool cascading into the sinkhole as it opened up, causing the pool to collapse as horrified partygoers watched in shock.

The body of the first man was recovered from the bottom of the sinkhole by rescue teams after a four-hour search. He was identified as Klil Kimhi, 32, by the Times of Israel.

The second person, a 34-year-old man, was able to climb out on his own, according to the Israeli Fire and Rescue Service. A paramedic told the Jerusalem Post that the man who climbed out of the sinkhole suffered minor injuries to his head and legs.

Natan and Rachel Meller, who own the home, were arrested after investigators discovered that they had not applied for a permit to build the pool, according to the Israeli news site Ynet.

Judge Carmit Ben Eliezer decided to release the couple to house arrest at the home of their daughter in Petah Tikva, despite a request from police to keep them in custody, according to Ynet. The couple is also suspected of running a business without a license and money laundering.

“This is a terrible tragedy, this is a very unusual event, no less unusual than a lightning strike. This kind of thing happens once in a hundred years, and it unfortunately happened,” the couple’s layer Zion Amir told Ynet, noting that the couple does not have a criminal record.

The U.S. Geological Survey states that sinkholes are common when the rock below the land surface is dissolved by groundwater running through it, creating underground caverns.

“Sinkholes are dramatic because the land usually stays intact for a while until the underground spaces just get too big,” according to the USGS. “If there is not enough support for the land above the spaces, then a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur.”


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