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Car goes down as road surface gives way in Etterbeek

14:41 13/01/2021

No matter how bad your day is going, at least you can say that your car did not get swallowed by a sinkhole like that of some poor soul in Etterbeek.

The sinkhole was caused – as so many of them are – by a water leak under the surface of the road. It was about 7.45 when the white hatchback started heading sub-surface, but no one was in the car and no one in the street was injured.

The fire department arrived on the residential Rue des Perdrix to pull the car out and closed the street off to traffic. A crew from water supplier Vivaqua arrived quickly to turn off the water and carry out a quick fix to get the water back on while they work on a more substantial repair.

Vivaqua expects the repair to be finished by the close of day today, but the street will remain closed to traffic until the sinkhole itself is fixed, which is expected to take a few days.

The power of water

As sinkholes go, this was a relatively small one, but by Brussels standards pretty big. Sinkholes are always caused by water, whether through natural forces or leaks. This one was a leak, which causes loose material to flow away, creating a void below the surface. The weight of the asphalt then causes the surface to give way.

Hopefully this is not an omen for the rest of the year; in 2017, a rash of sinkholes in the capital disrupted traffic and interrupted water supplies. They appeared in Brussels-City, Saint-Josse, Schaerbeek and Jette. The biggest one – in Saint-Josse – measured 36 square-metres and led to an evacuation of more than 200 residents as water supplies had to be turned off.

Photo courtesy Brussels Fire Department

Written by Lisa Bradshaw