27 Sep 2015

Massive sinkhole opens in Queensland

8:18 pm on 27 September 2015

A sinkhole bigger than a football field has swallowed vehicles at a popular camping spot near Queensland's Rainbow Beach overnight.

A sinkhole swallowed vehicles at a campsite near Queensland's Rainbow Beach.

AAP / Higgins Storm Chasing

A sinkhole swallowed vehicles at a campsite near Queensland's Rainbow Beach. Photo: AAP / Higgins Storm Chasing

Authorities in south-eastern Queensland say the camping ground on the Sunshine Coast near Fraser Island will remain cordoned off tonight.

Some campers narrowly escaped with their lives as the sinkhole swallowed their vehicles and tents at midnight last night.

Police said the hole opened up slowly from about 11pm at Inskip Point and was estimated to be about 100 metres by 100 metres and at least three metres deep.

A car, caravan and campervan were sunk almost immediately.

One woman ran screaming through nearby campsites banging on caravans and yelling for people to get out.

Emergency services said about 200 people had been evacuated from the site.

Police and State Emergency Service (SES) crews were quickly on site, helping those in the immediate vicinity to leave.

They warned other campers to pack up and be prepared to evacuate at short notice.

One man said he had been fishing with another man on the beach when they heard a commotion and looked around to see the ground opening up.

He said the second man raced back to his campsite as he saw his car and caravan going under.

SES volunteer Mark Lawler said other vehicles blocked by trees were expected to go under throughout the night.

Many campers took the opportunity to leave immediately, driving into Rainbow Beach and setting up a temporary camp in one of the parks.

Sunshine Coast recovery experts Clayton's Towing reported the sinkhole on Facebook overnight.

The company said two of their employees, who were camping 200 metres from the beach, were caught up in the mayhem.

They were quickly evacuated after they "heard a noise like a storm" and "realised the sand was rapidly disappearing into the ocean at an amazing speed".

Police said no one was reported injured and everyone had been accounted for.

The campground was hit by a similar giant sinkhole in 2011.