Sinkhole scare: Man ordered to vacate Portobello home

The hole in the patio at Andrew Thomson's Portobello home. Photo: Andrew Thomson via RNZ
The hole in the patio at Andrew Thomson's Portobello home. Photo: Andrew Thomson via RNZ
A Dunedin man who was swallowed up by a sinkhole in his backyard this week has been ordered by the council to leave the property immediately.

Andrew Thomson, who thought he would be buried alive when a sinkhole opened up under his feet and he fell three metres into the earth, has been told to stay out of his Portobello home until engineers deem it safe to re-enter.

The incident happened on Tuesday when he went outside to feed his fish.

"I realised I hadn't fed the fish in a few days, so I popped on down to do so - and immediately fell through the earth,'' he told Newstalk ZB.

"A fairly harrowing experience, I would say.''

Today, the Dunedin City Council visited Thomson at home and issued a notice to vacate the property.

He cannot return until a engineer has come on site, assessed the property and given the all-clear.

Until then, it was not inhabitable and he was not sure how long that would take to resolve.

The Council response was fair, he said, as he had questioned the safety of the property himself.

He was working with the Council to get a solution sorted as soon as possible.

After he fell in the sinkhole he was stuck for about half an hour, which felt more like an eternity, he had told Newstalk ZB.

The situation felt even more dire given there were road works happening nearby, drowning out his cries for help.

"Really fortunately, a neighbour up the road did hear - I've never met him before. He came on down to investigate.

"He nearly slipped in himself, actually. It started to give way when he got close.

"If he hadn't [found me], I literally would've been there overnight and that was just terrifying."

The neighbour sought help from the nearby Fulton Hogan workers, who managed to get him out safely.

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