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Car Devoured by Sinkhole Near Pittsburgh Following Heavy Rain

One woman saw her car sucked into the earth outside of a tanning salon near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tuesday.

A sinkhole measuring nearly 50 feet long and 20 feet wide opened in the parking lot near McKnight Road in Ross Township, KDKA reported.

According to the report, heavy rains caused a storm drain runoff pipe to collapse leading to the formation of the sinkhole.

The woman was able to escape the vehicle before it was devoured by the caving parking lot, KDKA reported.

Sinkholes differ from landslides, but are also a direct result of precipitation and gravity acting upon the earth. Unlike landslides, sinkholes are even harder to predict since erosion beneath the surface is a direct cause of failure.

Landslides and sinkholes can suck down structures, vehicles and thousands of people instantly in a cataclysmic dive. Hundreds of thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damages are caused by these events each year. Adding to the danger, it is difficult to predict where or when these events will occur.

"Geologically, a sinkhole is a depression in the ground that has no natural external surface drainage," the U.S. Geological Survey reports. "Basically this means that when it rains, all of the water stays inside the sinkhole and typically drains into the subsurface."

Areas with rocks that are soluble to groundwater are at the highest risk for sinkholes. Pennsylvania is one of the states most prone to their occurrence, according to the USGS.

No injured were reported.