(Photo: YouTube Screen Shot)
A Louisiana sinkhole, 22 acres in size has caused authorities to advise 350 local residents to evacuate their homes, according to reports.
The massive gas-emitting sinkhole was discovered on Aug. 3 last year and appears to have resulted from a underground salt dome cavern about 40 miles south of Baton Rouge.
The sinkhole has sparked large amounts of oil and natural gas to ooze to the surface, and more than 300 residents in the swampy Assumption Parish community are now facing an uncertain future.
The operator of the salt dome, Texas Brine Co., is now reportedly negotiating with residents about buying out the land of residents who have not commenced lawsuits against it.
According to The Associated Press, a spokesperson for the company has confirmed that until now 92 buyout offers have been offered, of which 44 have been accepted.
Some local residents are eager to move after news of the sinkhole arose. There is a fear among many about how safe the neighborhood would be in the long term, and whether the sinkhole would make the wider area compromised. There are also fears about the natural gas being leaked in the area, and worries that the gas could built up, trapped in certain areas and cause explosions.
Officials have said both situations are very unlikely, but that has done little to quell the fear in some. News has spread that gas was detected in at least four separate residences on the northern side of the community. Officials have said the gas levels recorded were low, but the news was enough to put some people off from the area.
Authorities will be looking to fill the void created by the collapsed cavern, in the hope that this will stabilize the area. But experts have confirmed that the land is still shifting and the sinkhole has continued to grow in size over recent weeks.