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Daniel LeClair/Reuters

25 Times the Earth Tried to Swallow Us

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Daniel LeClair/Reuters

Sinkholes—those terrifying natural phenomena known for gulping down unsuspecting houses, bridges, or even Corvettes—have been a hot topic in the news lately. Most of these newsworthy cave-ins are of the "cover-collapse" variety, in which soil beneath the surface begins to shift downward, leaving behind an increasingly large air pocket beneath a thin bridge of soil that manages to hold together until one day it doesn't, and suddenly: sinkhole.

Unlike earthquakes and hurricanes, sinkholes cause damage that is usually concentrated in a single place: namely, the new, gaping opening in what used to be a grassy field or intact asphalt highway. This destruction is no picnic for residents of the surrounding area, but for everyone else, it serves as a fascinating reminder of the Earth's dangerous potential.

1. Ottawa, Canada

Blair Gable/Reuters

Ottawa residents were disappointed on February 21, 2014, when their proposed celebration of one year's construction work on a new light rail transit system turned into a press conference about the hole that put a halt to their plan. There's no official diagnosis of exactly what caused dirt to begin showering down on excavation crews working to clear an underground tunnel for transit, but it's a safe bet that all that digging around couldn't have helped. Gravity is a tricky force to manage, and with nothing beneath it for support, all that surface dirt needed somewhere to go: thus, a sinkhole.

2. Beijing, China

China Daily/Reuters

In another example of human construction projects gone awry, the city of Beijing found itself with a sinkhole on its hands after improper procedure caused an underground water pipe to burst. The 16-foot by 16-foot hole filled with water, diverting the supply for almost 300 households in the area and creating a very unappealing kind of urban swimming pool.

3. Xi'an, Shaanxi, China

Stringer/Reuters

A broken water pipe strikes again in another Chinese province, causing the collapse of a two-lane road—but, luckily, no casualties.

4. Clermont, FL

David Manning/Reuters

Disney World enthusiasts at Florida's Summer Bay Resort had their vacations rudely interrupted by a sinkhole in August 2013 that caused serious structural damage to two buildings housing roughly 105 people. Though their holiday guidebooks probably didn't warn them, Florida is no stranger to such upsetting events: the state's frequent rainfall makes its underlying bedrock more prone to dissolve even as the ground's surface remains intact, leading to a nasty surprise when what seemed solid just a minute before suddenly gives way. In this case, a quick-thinking security guard (who was probably up on his sinkhole science) reacted to reports of unexplained loud noises and cracking windows by evacuating all the guests, giving them plenty of time to get away from the disaster area safely.

5. Montreal, Canada

Christinne Muschi/Reuters

Though a sinkhole that can take down a construction vehicle seems plenty big, this interruption on Montreal's Saint-Catherine Street is a baby compared to the world's biggest sinkholes. The Qattara Depression just west of Cairo, Egypt measures 75 miles across at its largest point, a distance this tractor would have taken hours to travel.

6. Xi'an, Shaanxi, China

Stringer/Reuters

The frequency of sinkhole stories coming out of China has many of its citizens blaming the nation's emphasis on rapid urbanization coupled with inadequate training for construction workers, leading to a weak infrastructure that contributes to sinkholes like the one that swallowed a cement truck. Japan experienced a similar problem about 20 years ago, when hasty construction in Tokyo caused approximately 20 sinkhole disasters a year; since the city began more stringently investigating the underground landscape using radar technology, that number has dropped to about two per year.

7. Toledo, OH

Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld/Toledo Fire and Rescue/Reuters

Pamela Knox must have had the most interesting story to share around the dinner table on July 3, 2013, after she drove straight into a sinkhole that opened up right in front of her eyes. The driver ahead of her just managed to drive past the collapsing bit of roadway, but there was no way for Knox to do the same. She was, at least, able to climb up a ladder to the surface, shaken but unharmed.

8. Loudi, Hunan, China

China Daily/Reuters

A Chinese motorcyclist experienced another near-miss in a sinkhole that appeared in the wake of a large truck: the man fell in, but was rescued promptly and, while injured, survived.

9. Shenzhen, Guangdong, China

China Daily/Reuters

Not all sinkhole victims escape. Here, rescue workers retrieve a body from a caved-in roadway. Such deaths are rare, but when a sinkhole strikes, there's no way to avoid it: reported incidents from Beijing, Taiwan, Idaho, and Utah have all involved victims who were near-instantly lost when the ground gave way beneath them.

10. Chicago, IL

Jim Young/Reuters

"April showers" took a more sinister turn in Chicago last year. Instead of May flowers, they brought school closures, air travel delays, and a sinkhole that swallowed three cars. Major flooding in the South Side area put pressure on an old water main dating from 1915, which gave way and contributed to the rapid erosion beneath street level.

11. Xi'an, Shaanxi, China

China Daily/Reuters

Although no official cause was determined for this particular sinkhole, it's likely another run-of-the-mill case of erosive activity, poor construction, or broken pipes—unlike one tragic accident in Idaho caused by a vast network of gopher tunnels.

12. Toowoomba, Australia

Alicia Morrison/Reuters

Brisbane residents put up sandbags around their homes to prevent the onslaught of area flooding, but nothing could prevent a gaping sinkhole from forming just west of the city.

13. Schmalkalden, Germany

Alex Domanski/Reuters

Officials from the German town of Schmalkalden, population approximately 20,000, declared their intention to fill a sinkhole measuring 98 feet across and 65 feet deep with gravel. In most other instances, sinkholes in non-residential areas are usually left to their own devices; over time, sinkholes will usually self-correct by filling with eroded soil from the surrounding area. In some cases, the hole fills up with water instead, creating a pond.

14. Dachegnqiao, Ningxiang, Hunan, China

Stringer/Reuters

The worst sinkholes are the ones that aren't yet satisfied. Onlookers near the Dachegnqiao sinkhole were careful not to get too close, since the crater was already 492 feet wide at the time of this photo and continued to grow each day.

15. Les Arcs sur Argens, France

Sebastien Nogier/Reuters

Rainfall of around 14 inches in just a few hours and its location near Le Real River spelled sinkhole disaster for this town center.

16. Guatemala City, Guatemala

Daniel LeClair/Reuters

More than 94,000 people had to be evacuated in a sinkhole disaster of epic proportions caused by Tropical Storm Agatha in 2010. Rescue efforts on such a large scale were made even more difficult by the destruction of roads and highway bridges leading out of the city. There were significant casualties.

17. Caracas, Venezuela 

Miranda Government/Reuters 

In December 2010, thousands of Venezuelans were forced to flee their homes—and 21 people were killed—amid landslides and river flooding, which also contributed to this sinkhole in the Gran Marical de Ayacucho highway in the state of Miranda outside Caracas.

18. Hefei, Anhui, China

China Daily/Reuters

The 6-foot sinkhole here couldn't quite consume a building, but it easily took down a taxi and a few motorbikes, with one more car teetering on the edge.

19. Nachterstedt, Germany

Gemeindeverwaltung Nachterstedt/Reuters

A peaceful lakeside residence disappeared into the water one Saturday morning in an eastern German village. The "lake" was the converted remainder of an old coal mine, and this instability may account for the 350 meters of shoreline that disappeared along it.

20. Guangzhou, Guangdong, China

REUTERS/China Daily

Another car fell prey to a sudden road collapse in China's Guangdong province, but no casualties were reported. Although this is a fairly shallow hole, the Chinese have a special name for extremely large craters exceeding 820 feet in depth and/or width: "tiankengs," or "sky holes."

21. San Sebastián, Spain

Vincent West/Reuters

A 2008 storm along the Bay of Biscay, on the Spanish coast near the French border, sunk boats moored along the Paseo Nuevo, or "New Promenade."

22. Guatemala City, Guatemala

Stringer/Reuters

A smaller sinkhole than the one that put Guatemala's capital city in global headlines in 2010, this 2007 crater nonetheless consumed a number of homes and resulted in three residents reported missing.

23. Nagapattinam, India

Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

This shot of Indian locals looking suspiciously into the pit left behind by tsunami damage in 2004 demonstrates an appropriate level of wariness when dealing with sinkholes: in the same way that lightning (despite the old adage) is more likely to strike the same location multiple times, the presence of one sinkhole often indicates an area's overall unstable topography, which may contribute to even more unpleasant geologic surprises in the near future.

24. Gallipoli, Italy

Fabio Serino/Reuters

Italy is one of a handful of countries around the world whose karst topography—that is, land dominated by water-soluble rocks like limestone, which easily dissolve to create irregular landscapes—makes it susceptible to sinkholes born of natural causes. Florida is one of the United States' most notable karst areas; other such vulnerable regions include Mexico, Belize, China, Russia, Slovenia, and Croatia.

25. Nanchang, Jiangxi, China

China Daily/Reuters

Sinkholes don't often have such neat edges as this collapsed segment of Shunwai Road in Nanchang. Officials announced plans to investigate causes of the cave-in, but sinkholes can be as unknowable as they are dangerous.

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30 Memorable Quotes from Carrie Fisher
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Just days after suffering a heart attack aboard a flight en route to Los Angeles, beloved actress, author, and screenwriter Carrie Fisher passed away at the age of 60 on December 27, 2016. Though she’ll always be most closely associated with her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, Fisher’s life was like something out of its own Hollywood movie. Born in Beverly Hills on this day in 1956, Fisher was born into show business royalty as the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds.

In addition to her work in front of the camera, Fisher built up an impressive resume behind the scenes, too, most notably as a writer; in addition to several memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels, including Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, Delusions of Grandma, The Best Awful, Postcards from the Edge, and The Princess Diarist (which was released last month), she was also an in-demand script doctor who counted Sister Act, Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, and The Wedding Singer among her credits.

Though she struggled with alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness, Fisher always maintained a sense of humor—as evidenced by the 30 memorable quotes below.

ON GROWING UP IN HOLLYWOOD

“I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.”

“I was born into big celebrity. It could only diminish.”

“At a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“I was street smart, but unfortunately the street was Rodeo Drive.”

“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”

ON AGING

“As you get older, the pickings get slimmer, but the people don't.”

ON INSTANT GRATIFICATION

“Instant gratification takes too long.”

ON THE LEGACY OF STAR WARS

“People are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big of a hit. Yes, we all knew. The only one who didn't know was George.”

“Leia follows me like a vague smell.”

“I signed my likeness away. Every time I look in the mirror, I have to send Lucas a couple of bucks.”

“People see me and they squeal like tropical birds or seals stranded on the beach.”

“You're not really famous until you’re a Pez dispenser.”

ON THE FLEETING NATURE OF SUCCESS

“There is no point at which you can say, 'Well, I'm successful now. I might as well take a nap.'”

ON DEALING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

“I'm very sane about how crazy I am.”

ON RESENTMENT

“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die."

ON LOVE

“Someone has to stand still for you to love them. My choices are always on the run.”

“I've got to stop getting obsessed with human beings and fall in love with a chair. Chairs have everything human beings have to offer, and less, which is obviously what I need. Less emotional feedback, less warmth, less approval, less patience, and less response. The less the merrier. Chairs it is. I must furnish my heart with feelings for furniture.”

“I don’t hate hardly ever, and when I love, I love for miles and miles. A love so big it should either be outlawed or it should have a capital and its own currency.”

ON EMOTIONS

“The only thing worse than being hurt is everyone knowing that you're hurt.”

ON RELATIONSHIPS

“I envy people who have the capacity to sit with another human being and find them endlessly interesting, I would rather watch TV. Of course this becomes eventually known to the other person.”

ON HOLLYWOOD

“Acting engenders and harbors qualities that are best left way behind in adolescence.”

“You can't find any true closeness in Hollywood, because everybody does the fake closeness so well.”

“It's a man's world and show business is a man's meal, with women generously sprinkled through it like overqualified spice.”

ON FEAR

“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”

ON LIFE

“I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.”

“No motive is pure. No one is good or bad-but a hearty mix of both. And sometimes life actually gives to you by taking away.”

“If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”

“I shot through my twenties like a luminous thread through a dark needle, blazing toward my destination: Nowhere.”

“My life is like a lone, forgotten Q-Tip in the second-to-last drawer.”

ON DEATH

“You know what's funny about death? I mean other than absolutely nothing at all? You'd think we could remember finding out we weren't immortal. Sometimes I see children sobbing at airports and I think, 'Aww. They've just been told.'”

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Get This Weekend's Best Amazon Deals Now
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As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, October 21.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

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LBell Wireless Headphones V4.1 Wireless Stereo earbuds Built-in CVC6.0 Noise Cancellation Stereo Bluetooth Headphones with Mic and Apt-x for iPhone and Android Phones (White) for $22.99 (list price $76.99)

Cord Organizer, Earbud Holder, Leather Cord Organizer, Leather Cable Holder, Earphone Holder, Cable Organizer, Genuine Leather Cord Organizer (3 in 1 Packaging) SPECIAL OFFER for $6.99 (list price $19.99)

VicTsing Bluetooth FM Transmitter, Wireless In-Car Radio Transmitter Adapter /w USB Car Charger AUX Input 1.44 Inch Display TF Card Slot - Black for $18.99 (list price $39.99)

[Upgraded to 6700mAh] Anker Astro E1 Candy-Bar Sized Ultra Compact Portable Charger, External Battery Power Bank, with High-Speed Charging PowerIQ Technology (Black) for $16.99 (list price $59.99)

iphone Cable, Pecosso Lightning Cable : 3 Pack (10ft/6ft/3ft) Lightning to USB Fast Charging Cable, Nylon Braided Sync Cord Combination for iPhone 7/7plus/6s/6s plus/6/5s/iPad/iPod/Beats Pill - Black for $6.49 (list price $11.10)

iClever Quiet 7 Color Backlit Rechargeable Portable Bluetooth Keyboard for PCs, Tablets, Smartphones for $21.99 (list price $39.99)

Walcase Apple Watch Band 42mm, Fully Magnetic Closure Clasp Mesh Loop Milanese Stainless Steel iWatch Band for Apple Watch Series 3 Series 2 Series 1 Sport and Edition - Black for $11.99 (list price $32.99)

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iPhone 8, 7, 6S, 6 Screen Protector Glass, amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for Apple iPhone 8, 7, iPhone 6S, iPhone 6 [4.7"inch] 2017 2016, 2015 (2-Pack) for $6.99 (list price $29.99)

Energizer AA Batteries, Double A Battery Max Alkaline (24 Count) E91BP-24 for $13.99 (list price $28.61)

KITCHEN

ThermoPro TP03A Digital Food Cooking Thermometer Instant Read Meat Thermometer for Kitchen BBQ Grill Smoker for $11.99 (list price $29.99)

Miusco 5 Piece Silicone Cooking Utensil Set with Natural Acacia Hard Wood Handle for $20.99 (list price $49.99)

Utopia Kitchen Premium Class Stainless-Steel 12 Knife Set with Acrylic Stand for $35.69 (list price $299.99)

[20 Pack] 3 Compartment Meal Prep Containers BPA Free Portion Control Bento Boxes (39 Oz.) for $17.99 (list price $39.99)

Rubbermaid LunchBox Sandwich Kit, Food Storage Container, Green for $6.79 (list price $39.00)

Spiral Slicer Spiralizer Complete Bundle - Vegetable Spiralizer and Cutter - Zucchini Pasta Noodle Spaghetti Maker for $14.84 (list price $39.99)

Pre Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet (12.5 inch) by Utopia Kitchen for $30.99 (list price $99.99)

Cuisinart CTG-00-3MS Set of 3 Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers for $19.90 (list price $22.00)

Vremi 5 Piece Cheese Grater Set with Container - Microplane Zester Parmesan Cheese Shredder Vegetable Slicer Cheese Graters - Fine and Coarse Metal Hand Cheese Grater Adjustable Hard Cheese Slicer for $8.99 (list price $34.99)

ROCKSHEAT Pizza Stone Made of Cordierite for Pizza & Bread Baking Grilling. Perfect for Oven or Grill. Innovative Unique Double - faced Built - in 4 Handles Design (Rectangular 12"x15"x0.63") for $23.99 (list price $60.00)

Home-it Stainless Steel Bread Box for kitchen, bread bin, bread storage Bread holder 16.5x10x8 for $19.99 (list price $49.99)

Set of 9 Grey Beverage Chilling Stones [Chill Rocks] Whiskey Stones for Whiskey and other Beverages - in Gift Box with Velvet Carrying Pouch - Made of 100% Pure Soapstone - by Quiseen for $7.95 (list price $18.99)

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TasteLife 105 GSM Deep Pocket Bed Sheet Set Brushed Hypoallergenic Microfiber 1800 Bedding Sheets Wrinkle, Fade, Stain Resistant - 4 Piece(White,Queen) for $14.90 (list price $119.90)

Zober Premium Quality Space Saving Velvet Hangers Strong and Durable Hold Up To 10 Lbs - 360 Degree Chrome Swivel Hook - Ultra Thin Non Slip Suit Hangers, Black - 50 pack for $22.95 (list price $39.99)

Cr Sleep Ventilated Memory Foam Bed Pillow with AirCell Technology, Standard, 1-Pack for $25.49 (list price $89.99)

StorageManiac Foldable Pop-Up Mesh Laundry Hamper with Reinforced Carry Handles, 2-Pack for $16.99 (list price $39.99)

Monkey Hook Picture Hanger Home and Office Pack, 30 pc set for $11.24 (list price $19.75)

Syntus Himalayan Salt Lamp Natural Crystal Salt Light Glow Hand Carved Night Lights Wall light with UL Listed Plug for Lighting, Decoration and Air Purifying for $12.99 (list price $21.99)

LED String Lights 33 ft with 100 LEDs, TaoTronics Waterproof Decorative Lights for Bedroom, Patio, Parties ( Copper Wire Lights, Warm White ) for $14.49 (list price $29.99)

Whitmor Supreme Wide Stacking Shelf, Chrome for $15.35 (list price $32.02)

Hoover FH50251PC Power Scrub Elite Pet Carpet Cleaner for $169.99 (list price $189.00)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Activated Charcoal Natural Teeth Whitening Powder by Pro Teeth Whitening Co® | High Quality Grey Charcoal (non abrasive and proven safe for enamel) From Coconut Shells | Manufactured in England for $12.99 (list price $29.99)

TheraFlow Dual Foot Massager Roller (Large) - Relieve Plantar Fasciitis, Heel, Foot Arch Pain & Stress - Foot Chart & Instructions Included - Acupressure/ Reflexology Tool - Perfect Gift for $16.95 (list price $49.99)

Apple Cider Vinegar - Pills for Weight Loss - Includes: Vitamin B6, Spirulina, Lecithin & Kelp - Helps Support Detox, Digestion & Circulation, 350 mg, 90 Capsules for $18.92 (list price $28.59)

B.I.G. Natural Pre Shave Oil, 60 ml for $12.95 (list price $25.00)

Pure Body Naturals Essential Oils Gift Set, Lavender/Tea Tree/Eucalyptus/Lemongrass/Orange/Peppermint, 6 count - 10 ml for $14.95 (list price $17.95)

Colgate Max Fresh Wisp Disposable Travel Toothbrush, Peppermint - 24 Count for $4.99 (list price $7.99)

Nano Towel Makeup Remover Face Cloth. Remove Cosmetics FAST and Chemical Free. Wipes Away Facial Dirt and Oil Like An Eraser. Great for Sensitive Skin, Acne, Exfoliating, Mascara, etc. 7 x 16" for $14.97 (list price $29.99)

CCS Blackhead Remover Pimple Extractor with Instructions for Acne Comedone Whitehead Blemish Zit Removal Tool Kit for $6.97 (list price $49.97)

Oneleaf 2PCS Professional Pedicure Rasp Foot File Cracked Skin Corns Callus Remover for Extra Smooth and Beauty Foot for $9.99 (list price $19.99)

OUTDOORS, GARDEN, AND SPORTS

Wilson Championship Extra Duty Tennis Ball (4-Pack), Yellow for $15.16 (list price $20.18)

Anker Ultra-Bright Tactical Flashlight with 1300 Lumens, Rechargeable(26650 Battery Included), IP67 Water-Resistant, Bolder LC130 LED with 5 Light Modes For Camping, Security, Emergency Use for $45.99 (list price $112.00)

Enkeeo Foldable Fishing Net Triangular Landing Net with Aluminum Pole and Nylon Mesh, 14.6" Wide for $19.99 (list price $39.99)

G4Free 12x25 Compact Binoculars(BAK4,Green Lens),Large Eyepiece Super High-Powered Field Surveillance Binoculars for $24.99 (list price $39.99)

Stansport Canteen, 4-Quart for $7.97 (list price $10.49)

HEIMDALL Safety Whistle with lanyard (2 pack) for Boating Camping Hiking Hunting Emergency Survival Rescue Signaling for $8.95 (list price $10.99)

Veegul Stylish Doctor Style Canvas School Backpack Functional Travel Bag for Men Women Semizipper Pocket x Black VG for $39.99 (list price $74.50)

Enkeeo Foam Roller 13” × 6” EVA with Grid Design Muscle Rollers for Deep Tissue Myofascial Release, Sports Massage and Recovery, Trigger Point Therapy, Pilates & Yoga, Black for $16.99 (list price $29.99)

TOOLS

Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover #TBR-6 for $9.15 (list price $14.33)

Gorilla 7700104 Super Glue Gel, 20g for $5.97 (list price $14.89)

Worthington 336737 WT2301 Trigger Start Propane Torch for $16.97 (list price $19.99)

Bosch T4021 Screwdriver Bit Set, Blue, 21-Piece for $8.17 (list price $14.99)

DEWALT DW1361 Titanium Pilot Point Drill Bit Set, 21-Piece for $19.99 (list price $25.99)

Tire Inflator, 3-in-1 Inflation Gun, with Gun, Locking Chuck and 2-inch Gauge, ¼” NPT and Flexible Hose (Campbell Hausfeld MP600000AV) for $9.94 (list price $13.49)

Stanley 84-056 3-Piece Bi-Material Pliers Set for $13.18 (list price $18.29)

Stanley 55-525 15-inch Super Wonder Bar Pry Bar for $9.89 (list price $13.29)

Picture Hanging Kit Asst for $9.99 (list price $12.99)

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