Published: 00:00, 21 February 2016
| Updated: 13:52, 21 February 2016
A homeowner has described the terrifying moment a gaping sinkhole appeared in her front garden – swallowing an eight foot tree.
Zoe Slater, 24, thought vandals had uprooted the tree when she noticed it missing from her property in Boughton, near Canterbury.
But she was stunned when neighbours called to say a sinkhole measuring 10 feet across had formed in the front garden.
Police sealed off The Charltons at around 2pm yesterday before calling in Kent Highway Services to investigate.
It is thought the crater began to form yesterday and may be due to leaking water from an underground pipe.
Ms Slater, a part-time cleaner, says her two children are now too scared to stay at home.
“It’s absolutely unbelievable. I looked out in the morning and thought ‘hang on, the tree’s gone’," said Ms Slater. "I thought it must be vandals.
“It was a lot taller than me – seven or eight feet – and it had gone.
“Then neighbours called me and the road was cordoned off.”
Ms Slater says the hole is gradually filling with water and now resembles a cess pool. Just the upper branches of her tree are now visible.
“South East Water have told me it was something to do with a bung missing from a pipe,” she said. “The house was only built four years ago so maybe it’s been going on all that time.
“The problem is the hole stretches under the neighbour’s drive so I think there’ll be more trouble to come.”
She says it is a miracle the sink hole didn’t form in the summer.
“My children always play out the front in the summer with the neighbours,” she said. “I’d hate to think what could have happened.”
Police confirmed they attended the road at 2.04pm to reports of a sinkhole in a garden.
Officers sealed off the road for safety reasons, they said.
Tony Hillocks, South East Water’s Distribution Manager said: “We were alerted to a problem yesterday afternoon and our technician investigated.
“We found there had been a burst on a three inch diameter cast iron main. The water was shut off and the burst repaired as quickly as possible.
“We are now working with Kent County Council to find out if the sinkhole which appeared at around the same time is related to our burst main.
“In the meantime the area has been cordoned off for safety.”