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Woman falls into sinkhole in Springvale

A woman has had to be rescued from a 3m-deep hole after the ground opened under her feet while she was hanging washing out in a Melbourne backyard.

The woman, 53, was trapped in the hole at the Olympic Ave home in Springvale South in at least metre-high water for at least 20 minutes before neighbours heard her screams for help just after midday.

Emergency services raced to the backyard and worked frantically to rescue her, fearing throughout the operation the hole could collapse in on top of her.

The woman — a cleaner from Noble Park assisting an elderly woman named Mary who lives in the house — remarkably escaped the ordeal without injury.

It was initially feared a burst water pipe below the backyard may have caused the ground to fall in, with surrounding neighbours warned to be careful in their yards while engineers from City of Greater Dandenong and South East Water investigated.

But the investigation later revealed the hole was an old well that had not been covered properly.

“The well a number of years ago was covered up, but not too satisfactorily and (the cover) degraded over the years to the point where the lady has fallen through,” a council spokeswoman said.

“It was an isolated incident.”

Paramedic Stephanie Palamberis said the woman told her rescuers that she had been hanging washing out in the backyard at about 11.30am when the ground gave way.

“She fell with the dirt and mud, dropping about three metres and landing in waist-deep water. At one stage her head was under the water,” Ms Palamberis said.

“The woman told us she couldn’t touch the bottom of the hole, so was trying to swim and stay afloat, to avoid the risk of further mud collapses.”

CFA trench rescue teams were required to help lift the woman to safety.

CFA Dandenong operations manager Paul Carrigg said about eight rescuers lowered a rope down to the woman, asked her to wrap it around her underarms and hauled her up until they were able to reach her arms and pull her out.


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