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Sinkhole panic as sewer collapses under busy street

DRIVERS narrowly avoided being swallowed by a vast sinkhole on a busy street.

They were forced to swerve around the crater which opened up when a sewer collapsed under Stafford Street in Walsall, West Midlands.

Emergency services rushed to the scene to seal it off.

Mind the gap: The crater safely fenced off to protect families PICTURES: SWNS

Witnesses told how people from nearby businesses ran into the road to flag down vehicles heading straight for it.

Labour councillor Matt Ward said the street looked like a ‘meteor from outer space’ had hit it.

He added: ‘It’s absolutely huge. At about quarter to ten I drove down the road and the car went down a dip. It was like a roller coaster, so I contacted the council.

‘The cars were going down and then up as they went over it.

‘I didn’t expect as much to collapse, it’s a huge crater.

‘Thankfully no one has been injured, but if it had happened when the roads were busier there’s no doubt a car would have gone into it.’

Tyre company boss Sean Dickenson spotted the ground sinking shortly before it fell away and raced into the street to stop an approaching van.

He said: ‘We noticed there was a dip in the road. The cars were bouncing.

‘Day by day it’s been getting worse, then this morning we were sitting here and could see the road sinking.

‘The council came and put some signs up saying slow down.

‘We were watching the road dip and all of a sudden a Transit van drove down and I had to run and stop it before the road caved in. He had to swerve on the pavement.’

Local Peter Andrews, 29, added: ‘A couple of cars had near-misses.

‘I’m surprised the council or police didn’t close the road earlier as you could see it buckling for a couple of days.

‘It’s a miracle nobody was injured or killed.’

Severn Trent Water said: ‘It looks like it’s going to be a very complicated repair that’ll take at least four weeks to complete.’

Walsall council confirmed: ‘The large hole in the carriageway is believed to have been caused by a collapsed sewer.’