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Mail truck partially falls into sinkhole in Wilmington, Delaware

Mail truck partially falls into sinkhole in Wilmington; traffic being diverted in area
Mail truck partially falls into sinkhole in Wilmington; traffic being diverted in area 02:03

WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) -- A mail van was partially swallowed by a sinkhole Wednesday morning when a crater opened up in the middle of a block in Wilmington.

The mail carrier told CBS News Philadelphia she was inside the van when she felt it drop and start sinking into the hole. That's when neighbors yelled for her to get out.

"It kind of like reminded me of a monster truck scene, like if you were at a show or something like that," said Dell Thompson, who had a front-row view from his third-floor apartment.

Thompson said the sound of the crater breaking open woke up his younger brother.

It happened around 11:30 a.m. in the 800 block of West Ninth Street. When firefighters arrived, they said they found water gushing under the road.

"With a large water main break under the hole and the hole was growing pretty rapidly," Robert Pryor, the Battalion Chief with the Wilmington Fire Department, said. 

Chopper 3 was over the mail van as its back tires were stuck in the 10-foot-deep sinkhole. Firefighters evacuated 10 homes on the block, as other cars near the edge of the hole were moved.


"We entered those houses and didn't find any damage or structural issues," Pryor said.

The mail van had to be removed from the hole by a tow truck, and the water was shut off to stop the sinkhole from spreading. Delmarva Power was also on scene examining gas lines and reported no leaks were detected.

Now, Thompson is hoping for a quick and painless fix.

"Hopefully, a sturdier and safer street and if there's a nuisance to the water we can get that under control," Thompson said.

The Commissioner of Public Works said the sewer was damaged by the cave in, and a camera will be sent into the hole to see if it can be repaired or needs a full replacement. It's unclear how long the repairs will take.

Traffic is being diverted around the area. 

Drivers are being reminded West Ninth Street is closed from Adams Street to Monroe Street, and DART Route 8 buses have been diverted to Adams Street until further notice.

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