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Couple arrested after man sucked into sinkhole in swimming pool

The deadly incident happened at a pool party in Israel. Video from the scene shows the sinkhole quickly swallowing everything including water and inflatable toys.

WASHINGTON — The body of a man who was sucked into a massive sinkhole that opened up at the bottom of a swimming pool in Israel has been recovered and a couple has been arrested in connection with his death, Israeli news outlets report. 

The Jerusalem Post reported it took rescue crews several hours to find the 30-year-old man, who was declared dead after being discovered at the bottom of a 15-meter tunnel (nearly 50 feet). 

His exact cause of death has not been determined. The sinkhole reportedly opened up spontaneously during a company's pool party at a villa in Karmei Yosef, Israel. 

The couple who own the villa, a man and woman in their sixties, were arrested Thursday night and are suspected of causing death by negligence, police said. A court decided to release them Friday under “restrictive conditions of house arrest” for five days. 

Ynet News reported that the tunnels that opened up under the pool were in danger of collapsing, slowing rescue efforts as crews worked to reinforce them. A rescue dog was also used in an attempt to locate Kimhi. 

Video of the sinkhole shows water and inflatable toys being quickly sucked into a hole in the bottom of the pool while people walk around and stand near the edge of the gaping pit and as people sitting by the poolside shout in Hebrew. A man is seen approaching the sinkhole, slips and is almost pulled in before he backs away. 

A 34-year-old man who was also at the party fell into the pit, but only suffered minor injuries, local media reported. Newsweek reported that four other people managed to get out of the rapidly draining pool without being sucked in. 

Credit: AP
In this photo provided by Israel Fire and Rescue Services, Israeli firemen and rescuers work in a sinkhole formed in a swimming pool in Karmi Yosef, Israel, Thursday, July 21, 2022.

Israeli media cited witnesses as saying the party was attended by nearly 50 people, of whom six were in the pool, and also reported that the homeowner had built the pool without proper licensing.

Sinkholes often form as a result of geographical faults or cracks in the ground that allow water to pool underneath the surface. When that water evaporates or dissipates into the surrounding earth, it leaves a cavity in the ground that is susceptible to collapse if put under pressure. 

Professor Shmuel Marco of the Tel Aviv geophysics department told Ynet News that the sinkhole was likely a result of human intervention, possibly when building the pool. 

"It is likely that water seeped underneath the pool and eroded the ground that was there," he told the outlet. "There are no known natural sinkholes in that area."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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