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Homes evacuated after sinkhole appears on A26 in Kent

Homes evacuated after sinkhole appears on A26 in Kent

The road sank slowly for about 45 minutes before the collapse, a witness said
Ten homes have been evacuated after a large sinkhole opened up in a main road.Witnesses described a police car overtaking vehicles and blocking the A26, in Kent, just before part of the road collapsed into a void.Motorists told the BBC they heard a "crunching sound" before the 2m-wide sinkhole appeared on Monday evening. Work to repair the void - which officials believe extends for up to 20m underground - is likely to take weeks.
'Tarmac split'
Lauren Bourke was in a car with her fiance when the stretch of road between Maidstone and Tonbridge began to dip.
She said: "The bottom of a bus hit the dipping tarmac and made a slight crunching sound which is when we knew the road definitely wasn't safe."A police car overtook us and stopped in front of us."He got out and blocked the road off."It was sinking for about 45 minutes and then all of a sudden the tarmac split and it just went within five minutes. Then the left hand side started sinking too but didn't drop completely."
The road began to give way with "crunching" noises
Toby Howe, senior highways manager at Kent County Council, said the damage outside Taj Barming was "substantial"."Our preliminary investigations suggest that this void extends either side of the road from kerb to kerb for a total distance of 20 metres," he said.
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Together with Maidstone Borough Council, arrangements for those who were forced to leave their homes are being made.Mr Howe said teams would attempt to establish the cause of the collapse before working to repair the damage.He added: "In addition, there are utility supplies of gas, electric and water in the vicinity so we will need them to be involved too."
Police closed off the road before it fell through
The road is closed between Hermitage Lane and Queens Road, and a diversion is in place.On repairs, Mr Howe said: "We really do not have an estimate as yet but it will be more like weeks than days."A smaller sinkhole also opened up in Tunbridge Wells on Monday. Bayham Road is closed between Frant Road and Forest Road.
Tonbridge
Maidstone
East Barming
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