Some early diners in Meridian, Mississippi, were having a quiet, peaceful meal at an IHOP over the weekend when they heard a series of loud booms.
The power immediately went out, startling employees and patrons, who only came out to find that most of their cars weren’t parked where they had left them — the vehicles were all lying in a huge hole in the parking lot.
For reasons that are yet unknown, the ground in front of the restaurant caved in around 7:15 p.m. local time, creating a massive sinkhole roughly 50 feet wide, that extended from the IHOP to Sowashee Creek, nearly 600 feet away.
“When we arrived on scene, 14 to 15 vehicles that we could see had fallen roughly 30 feet into the ground,” Patrol Lieutenant Rita Jack with Meridian Police told NBC News. “We expect that there may be more and that they may fall further into the ground because there is only mud underneath.”
The police have roped off the area to keep people away. Fortunately, no injuries were reported in the incident, which could have been extremely disastrous.
“The sinkhole is huge,” the officer added. “If you imagine a football field cut in half, it is every bit of 50 feet wide and about 100-125 feet wide. We are talking 14 to 15 vehicles. It is very scary. We are so fortunate that no injuries were sustained. We are gonna keep it under observation until we know that it is clear and safe.”
Authorities believe that rain could be a contributing factor for the mysterious cave-in.
“The cause of the sinkhole is still under investigation, and our primary concern continues to be the safety of our guests and team members,” said IHOP spokesperson Craig Hoffman, “Therefore, the restaurant will remain closed until all necessary repairs have been completed.”
Watch the video above to find out more about the mysterious sinkhole.