An operation to fill in a sinkhole that came about as a result of potash extraction by Uralkali in the Perm region has gone awry, with an excavator and its operator disappearing under the earth Wednesday morning, the Emergency Situations Ministry reported.
The incident took place in the environs of the town of Berezniki, which has been nicknamed the "disaster city" thanks to the number of sinkholes that have appeared there in recent years.
Initial reports indicated that a forklift and bulldozer fell into the hole when the ground gave way. The depth of the hole ranges from 20 to 60 meters. Rescue workers were sent to attempt to locate the missing man, while construction teams tried to stabilize the earth to prevent further sinking.
Local bloggers have speculated that funds set aside for filling in sinkholes in the area might have been misspent.
An accident in 2006 lead to total flooding of Uralkali's mine in the area.