Samara sinkhole
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The city of Samara in Russia appears to be sinking into the earth, as massive sinkholes open up swallowing cars and wreaking havoc
They may look like stills from an apocalyptic horror film, but these images have become a daily reality for residents in a Russian city.

Citizens of Samara, in south east Russia, live in fear of the ground literally disappearing beneath them after huge sinkholes have started to appear all over their city, leaving devastation in their wake.

The yawning underground caverns are all believed to have sprung up in recent weeks swallowing cars, buses and claiming at least one life.

Samara sinkhole
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The sinkholes, some large enough to swallow an entire truck, are believed to have opened up as the Russian winter subsides
Samara Sinkhole
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There has reportedly been at least one fatality as a result of the sinkholes in the city, Russia's sixth largest
The sinkholes, some large enough to swallow an entire truck, are believed to have been caused by ground subsidence.

It is thought the holes have been caused as ice thaws and melts into the ground, with the excess water causing soil decay underneath Samara's roads.

The massive craters have appeared in car parks, busy intersections, by the sides of roads, and on major and minor thoroughfares.

Samara Sinkhole
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The gaping craters have baffled residents who now live in daily fear of the ground literally swallowing them
Samara Sinkhole
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Dozens of the massive craters, have appeared at random in recent weeks, reportedly as the winter thaws leaving the ground soaked with water
Samara sinkhole
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These pictures are all believed to have been taken in recent weeks as the ground decays beneath the city's infrastructure
Smara sinkhole
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Sinkholes are common hazards in mining regions, plaguing areas where miners have burrowed into layers of soluble minerals and accidental floods have followed
It is believed at least one person has lost their life as a result of one of the crashes caused by the sinkholes.

The citizens of the city have now signed a petition urging authorities to find a solution.

Sinkholes are common hazards in mining regions, plaguing areas where miners have burrowed into layers of soluble minerals and accidental floods have followed.

But natural sinkholes can take thousands of years to form and vary in size.

They are usually the result of what are known as Karst processes, which occur when a layer of rock such as limestone underneath the ground is dissolved by acidic water.

Typically rainfall seeps through the soil, absorbing carbon dioxide and reacting with decaying vegetation. As a result, the water that reaches the soluble rock is acidic.

Samara Sinkhole
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The problem is thought to be causing carnage across the city. Now residents have organised a petition to urge authorities to find a solution
Samara Sinkhole
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The collapse of the surface above a sinkhole can happen suddenly or over a few hours. Heavy rainfall or poor drainage systems can trigger a collapse
The acidic water then erodes the soluble rock layers beneath the surface creating cavernous spaces.

Then, when it is no longer supported because of the cavity below, the soil or sand over the limestone collapses into a sinkhole.

The collapse of the surface can happen suddenly or over a few hours. Heavy rainfall or poor drainage systems can trigger a collapse.

Citizens in Berezniki, Russia, have also been plagued by sinkholes.

Census data, though, shows that about 12,000 people left the town between 2005 and 2010, after a number of holes opened up.

They are also common in Florida, America.

Jeff Bush, 37, was swallowed into a sinkhole and killed while he slept in his bed in February in the
Tampa Bay area of Florida.