Japan fixes enormous Fukuoka city sinkhole in just two days, earning praise for efficiency

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 8:07am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 8:11am

A section of road in the centre of the Japanese city of Fukuoka has been repaired and reopened just days after a sinkhole opened up outside a busy railway station and threatened to topple nearby buildings.

In a startling demonstration of workmanship and efficiency, workers toiled around the clock and had filled and repaired in the section of road in just two days, according to local media.

The road opened to traffic and pedestrians early on Tuesday after local officials had tested the repairs and declared them safe.

Giant sinkhole swallows large chunk of busy street in Japanese city centre

The weeklong rush to reopen the busy stretch of road included repairs to a sewage pipe and replacing traffic lights and utility poles that were swallowed when the sinkhole opened up shortly after 5am local time on November 8.

The incident caused power cuts and disrupted phone signals, and gas and water supplies, but there were no reports of injuries.

The mayor of Fukuoka, Soichiro Takashima, said the affected ground was now 30 times stronger than before, adding that a panel of experts would be set up to establish the cause of the cave-in.

Local media reports said the 30m by 27m sinkhole, which was 15m deep, was caused by construction work on an extension to an underground line.

The Fukuoka workers, who filled the whole with 6,200 cubic metres of sand and cement, drew praise on social media. One person tweeted: “I’m surprised the road reopened in a week!” Another said: “Impressive. That was fast.”

The astonishing speed of the repair work brought back memories of the efforts to reopen roads that were badly damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster .

Before-and-after-photos showed how a team of workers took just six days to repair gaping cracks up to 150 metres along a stretch of road north of Tokyo, boosting attempts by emergency and aid workers trying to reach hundreds of thousands of survivors.