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Major Landslide Swallows Several Cars Along 26th Street In Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A major landslide swallows cars in Baltimore.

Meghan McCorkell and Rochelle Ritchie report.

Part of the road along E. 26th Street collapsed down onto the CSX tracks below. At least 10 cars parked along that street have fallen down onto the railroad tracks.

"The building shook at about 3:45 like a train derailed. We came running out here and the side of 26th Street just collapsed into the pit where CSX trains go," one man said. "The wall, the lights, the cars--everything parked on that side of the street--gone."

"We stood back and then within a 10-second period of time the whole... it's like the ground opened up and the cars just kind of slid down and the whole retaining wall just gave way," a man whose own car slid down said. "There was a giant crash and a plume of dust. One neighbor was screaming and crying. It was pretty traumatic."

An hour before the collapse, neighbors knew something was wrong.

"The street had dropped in some areas six to eight inches. There were large splits parallel with the rail tracks," said Jeff Larry, who called 911.

Nels Schumacher watched as his car plummeted down.

"It's just like the ground opened up and the cars kind of slid down. The whole retaining wall gave way with a giant crash," he said.

Photo Gallery: 26th Street Collapses As Heavy Rain Floods Md.

Regina McNamee begged rescue workers to save her car as it teetered on the edge of the road.

"I just stayed. I stayed and I pleaded," she said.

Officials were eventually able to drive it to safety.

CSX released a statement, saying:

"In Baltimore, Maryland, this afternoon an embankment collapsed onto CSX railroad tracks near 26th and North Charles Streets.  Train traffic in the area has been stopped.  We are working closely with authorities to assess damage, assure public safety and determine next steps and will provide updates."

Neighbors say it was like a scene from a Hollywood movie.

"The whole thing just went 'boom' and just went. It's like one of those big implosions when they knock down a water tank, it's just like that. Not fast, it was slow and eerie," one woman said.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake spoke at the scene. She says there are no injuries to report and that no one was inside the cars or on the sidewalk at the time of the collapse.

"What I do know is we've had to deal with sinkholes, large sinkholes, before. We have a great team of people who are going to put all of the resources necessary to deal with this as efficiently as possible, focus on safety," the mayor said. "And that's why the first thing we're doing is testing the structural integrity of the road that's left and the homes because we want to make sure whatever we do that we're keeping the individuals who are working on fixing this problem safe."

Neighbors say they have made a number of complaints to the city about the crumbling street.

"The street caved in back in the '80s on the other side of the school. We knew this was going to cave in because you could see the cracks getting wider and wider," a woman said. "Several neighbors have called the city over the past year, they patched it with blacktop. But over the winter, because of the snow, it just kept cracking. I got home at 3:30 and there were already several cars, about eight of them, settling into the ground."

"Three years I've been calling in. The city has come out five or six times and told me not to worry, that everything was OK," one man said. "Now, of course, the guys who come out in the trucks, they don't really know. They just come out, look at the situation. They're not engineers or anything. They're utility workers."

The people who live across the street from the collapse are not going to be allowed back into their homes Wednesday night. A building inspector has been requested.

"We have geophysical and structural engineers to place survey markers along the road to monitor the ground all night long," said Ian Brennan, Baltimore City fire.

"You could see it just sinking, sinking, sinking," one man said.

BGE crews are making sure none of the gas lines underneath the road have shifted.

Margaret Brent Elementary School---which is right across the street from the collapse---will be closed Thursday.

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