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Fla. resort villa swallowed by sinkhole

Inspectors checked damage to buildings caused by a sinkhole at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, Fla. on Monday. All 105 guests staying in the villa were evacuated, and its 24 three-story units were reported as a total loss.

John Raoux/Associated Press

Inspectors checked damage to buildings caused by a sinkhole at the Summer Bay Resort in Clermont, Fla. on Monday. All 105 guests staying in the villa were evacuated, and its 24 three-story units were reported as a total loss.

CLERMONT, Fla. — It sounded like a thunderstorm as windows broke and the ground shook, but vacationers who were awakened from their rooms at a villa near Orlando quickly realized the building was starting to collapse, with parts of it swallowed by a 100-foot sinkhole that also endangered two neighboring resort buildings.

By early Monday, nearly a third of the structure at Summer Bay Resort had collapsed. All 105 guests staying in the villa were evacuated, as were those in the neighboring buildings. No injuries were reported. The villa, with 24 three-story units, was reported as a total loss, and inspectors remained on the scene Monday afternoon to determine whether the other two buildings near the sinkhole — a common occurrence in Florida — would be safe to reenter.

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The first sign of trouble came about 10:30 Sunday night. Security guard Richard Shanley had just started his shift, and he heard what sounded like shouting from a building.

A guest flagged him down to report that a window had blown out. Shanley reported it to management, and another window popped. The resort’s staff decided to evacuate the villa.

Shanley said the building seemed to sink by 10 to 20 inches and bannisters began to fall off the building as he ran up and down three floors trying to wake guests. One couple with a baby on the third floor could not get their door open and had to break a window to get out, he said.

‘‘It’s a scary situation,’’ Shanley said, and guests credited him with saving lives by knocking on doors to wake them. Inside, they heard what sounded like thunder and then the storm of water. Evacuation took about 10 to 15 minutes, according to staff and witnesses.

Amy Jedele heard screams coming from one of adjacent buildings around 10:30 p.m., and several minutes later the sounds of sirens.

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