The man engulfed by a sinkhole that opened up in an in-ground pool at a villa in central Israel was identified Thursday night as 32-year-old Klil Kimhi, as police questioned the home’s owner about suspicion of negligent manslaughter.
Kimhi fell into a hole 13 meters (43 feet) deep. Rescue teams worked for four hours until they reached him and found him dead.
Kimhi was attending a party hosted by her marketing company at Karmei Yosef’s city villa.
The house regularly hosts such gatherings, Hebrew media reported, but the owner did not apply for a permit before building the pool. Had he done so, permission would not have been granted due to infrastructure problems at the site, according to an unsourced report by the Kan public broadcaster.
A second man was nearly swept away by the receding waters, but he managed to get out. He suffered minor injuries to the lower body and was taken to the scene by paramedics.
Kimhi’s body was recovered in a complex operation that required the assistance of Go-Pro cameras attached to the helmets of rescuers as they descended deep underground.
Fire and rescue services said the search was complicated by fears the tunnels emerging from the sinkhole could cause a secondary collapse. They built a support structure to prevent the surface of the pool from collapsing further on them before they could locate the missing man’s body.
Speaking to Channel 12 news, one of the people who attended the pool party said there were around 50 people at the scene when the disaster struck.
“The water level suddenly started to drop and a hole opened up, creating a vortex that took two people inside.”
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Another witness told the Ynet news site that the vortex engulfed Kimhi within seconds and there could have been other victims, but only six people were in the pool at the time.
When the sinkhole opened up, she yelled at her colleagues to get out of the pool, but at first they thought it was some kind of game.
“Seconds later, the ground just fell…I saw two people disappear,” she added.
Police announced later Thursday evening that they were opening an investigation into the death.
In a separate incident hours later Thursday, a 70-year-old man was pulled lifeless from the water on Haifa’s Beit Galim beach in the second fatal water-related incident of the day.