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Second sinkhole appears in Tampa area

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By Saundra Amrhein

SEFFNER, Florida (Reuters) - A second sinkhole appeared in the Tampa area on Monday, just miles from one that opened beneath a home last week and swallowed a man from his bed, though the latest one appeared not to pose immediate danger, police said.

The latest sinkhole opened between two homes and was about 12-feet round, 3 feet deep around the edge and about 5 feet deep in the center, said Hillsborough County spokesman Willie Puz.

He said the latest sinkhole appears to be unrelated to the one that opened last Thursday under the home of 37-year-old Jeff Bush.

"It is not geologically connected," Puz said.

Bush disappeared into the hole that opened up under his bedroom on Thursday night. The other occupants of the house, which is owned by the family of Jeremy Bush's fiancee, had been preparing for bed when they heard a loud crash and Jeff Bush screaming.

The hole was about 30 feet wide and 60 feet deep and filled with clay and debris. It is unlikely that Bush's body will ever be retrieved, officials said.

On Monday, demolition crews returned to Bush's home to demolish the rest of the house before efforts will begin to stabilize the sinkhole.

Two nearby houses have been evacuated because the sinkhole has weakened the ground underneath them, and their residents probably will never be allowed inside again, said Jessica Damico of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

Bush, a landscaper who mowed highway medians for a living, had moved into the four-bedroom home only two months ago which he shared with his brother, Jeremy Bush, 36, and four others.

Workers recovered a family Bible, flag, military medals, a purse, teddy bears and generations of photos. On Monday they recovered two antique rifles that were family heirlooms.

With the sinkhole expanding, engineers placed listening devices, microphones, ground-penetrating radar and other equipment testing the soil on the site to seek a safety zone to work and any sign of life below. They detected no such sign.

Jeremy Bush said the family was discussing plans for a memorial service and a possible marker at the site.

"I'm the only one who tried to get him out," he said, while begging county authorities to do more to find his brother's body when the lot is cleared.

Sinkholes in Florida are caused by the state's porous geological bedrock, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

As acidic rainwater filters into the ground, it dissolves the rock, causing erosion that can lead to underground caverns, which cause sinkholes when they collapse.

The latest sinkhole did not cause any injuries or structural damage to the homes around it.

(Editing by David Adams, Edith Honan, David Gregorio, Gary Hill)

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