Several passerby who stopped to help bus passengers were also engulfed by the sinkhole

By Rachel DeSantis
January 14, 2020 01:36 PM
STR/AFP via Getty

At least six people were killed and 16 were injured after a large sinkhole swallowed a bus in northern China, according to multiple reports.

Four people remain missing after the bus went front-first into the hole in the city of Xining, also taking with it a large street sign and several people waiting in line to board the bus, CNN and the Associated Press reported.

Video footage of the incident obtained by the BBC shows bystanders scrambled from the scene. Firefighters later attempted to pull the bus back up using a system of what appeared to be ropes before it was finally hoisted out by a crane.

Additional footage obtained by The New York Times shows how the bus slowly sunk into the hole until it eventually stood entirely vertical. Flames then spurt from below following what appears to be an explosion.

It remains unclear how many people were on the bus at the time, though the 32-foot hole also swallowed several good Samaritans who made attempts to rescue passengers, the BBC reported.

STR/AFP via Getty

Passerby Sun Wanhong, one of those who assisted, said he stopped to help save a woman clinging to the edge of the road.

“I heard someone shouting ‘Help! Help!’ and ran over,” he told state-run news magazine China Newsweek, according to CNN. “I saw a person hanging on the edge, so I reached out my hand to grab her. As soon as I reached her, [the road] collapsed again and there was nothing at the bottom, and several people who were helping out with me fell through.”

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Sun — who was reportedly treated in the hospital for multiple bone fractures — added that he was able to pull a teenager from the bottom of the pit.

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Six bodies have so far been found, and 16 people went to the hospital for treatment, government officials said at a news conference on Tuesday, according to CNN.

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Xining is the capital of the Qinghai province, one of the country’s poorest regions, according to the AP. Much of the area’s ground has reportedly become unstable due to mining, and there have been several similar incidents in various cities across the country in recent years.