NATION : 4 Houses Sinking Near Ill. Mine

From Times Wire Services

Four houses began sinking in this southern Illinois community after an old coal mine shaft collapsed, authorities said. No injuries were reported.

Cracks appeared in roads on the south side of this community of about 9,600, said Interim Fire Chief Paul Marlo. In the sinking homes, windows shattered, walls and floors cracked, and floors and pipes burst, residents said.

Two houses have sunk two to three feet, two adjacent houses suffered heavy damage when a water main broke, causing the yards to sink up to four feet. Occupants of a fifth house were evacuated, authorities said.

Evacuee Maxine Smith said she first realized something was wrong when she noticed a crack in her concrete driveway. “Then I got inside and heard the house popping. We could feel the house moving,” she said.