A huge sinkhole, in the very middle of a seasonal cottage community and near Solikamsk-2, a mine operated by Russia’s biggest potash fertilizer producer UralkalI, keeps growing in size.
It is gradually widening, and swallowing in more nearby holiday homes as the earth keeps collapsing.
The giant hole was said to measure 20 by 30 meters when first detected in November 2014. By the beginning of 2015 it was reported to have grown in size by up to 58 by 87 meters.
Now, approximately ten months later, it is said to measure 122 by 125 meters and is still enlarging and threatening new nearby holiday homes.
The crater, which is visible from space, is believed to be more than 75 meters deep.
Before the giant hole appeared, the company had evacuated workers from its Solikamsk-2 mine, due to the inflow of saline water. Operations at the site have been halted, and the level of underground water is now being monitored.
"Uralkali continues to eliminate the accident's consequences and to minimize potential adverse effects," the local media quotes the company as saying in its statement. The company is continuing to pump brines, working to strengthen the bridges between the mining fields Solikamsk-1 and Solikamsk-2, as well as plugging water-carrying channels.
The company says Solikamsk-2 is connected to another mine, Solikamsk-1. The underground tunnels linking the two were walled up decades ago, but local residents fear water would only need time to break through.
The town of Solikamsk is located almost entirely above the Solikamsk-1 mine.
The same mine had previously collapsed in January 1995, causing gas explosions in surrounding areas the following day.