Cars were pictured several feet below cracked and collapsed tarmac outside the retail giant’s superstore in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where emergency services have warned customers at retail park chain Tanger Outlets not to approach the unstable crater.
Measuring half of the width of the H&M shop, the sinkhole trapped the cars that inside it that emergency services worked hard to fish out when the incident happened on Thursday afternoon.
Gas lines were located directly under the sinkhole sparking fears of a leak or even an explosion should it mix with petrol from the vehicles.
Lafayette Fire Company took to Twitter to urge customers to avoid the area.
They said: Please avoid the area around Tanger Outlets in Lancaster, PA. @eastlampeterpd advised that a large sinkhole has opened up in the parking lot and swallowed some vehicles.”
Firefighters later took to their Facebook page to share images of the cars being removed from the sinkhole.
The post read: “East Lampeter Township Police Department requested the presence of our company due to the risk of natural gas lines being under the sinkhole.
“Thankfully, no one was injured and all of the vehicles were successfully recovered.”
They added: “The hole doubled in size while units were on scene, and its expected to grow.
“Engineers, geologists, and property representatives are working on finding the cause of the hole.”
A video was swiftly uploaded onto social media showing the extent of the damage.
Sinkholes are depressions in the ground caused by some form of collapse in the surface layer.
Most are caused by the dissolution of carbonate rocks and they can vary in size, diameter and depth.
They may form gradually or suddenly.
One of the most notorious is the Red Lake sinkhole in Imotski, Croatia, which is known for its numerous caves.
The total explored depth is 530 meters and water drains out of its basin though it is only the world’s third largest of its kind.
The largest natural sinkhole is the Qattara Depression in Cairo, Egypt which measures 80,000 by 120,000 metres.