Bubbling mud pool forces New Zealand family to flee home

(CNN) — A New Zealand family has been forced to abandon its home after a bubbling mud crater appeared in the garden.

Susan Gedye, who lives in the North Island town of Rotorua, woke up in the early hours of Tuesday morning thinking she was experiencing an earthquake. “I got woken up about 2 a.m. thinking ‘oh, there’s a huge earthquake happening here,’ there was a lot of shaking and jolting,” she told Radio New Zealand.

As the shaking continued, she went into her kitchen to investigate, looked out of the window and saw “a big geyser coming out of the ground,” she told the local news station.

By Tuesday morning, the mud pool had become much bigger, and Rotorua Lakes Council said it had also noticed some “ground collapse” in the area. Gedye and her family were moved out of the property as a safety precaution, as the pool continued to grow, steaming, bubbling and throwing wet mud.

By Thursday, the pool had started to engulf the resident’s garage, the council said.

Local resident Tīahomarama Fairhall told CNN: “I live below the house that the mud pool is front of. I didn’t hear the explosion but it was all the steam that caught my eye, thinking it was a fire. However that was not the case, as we got closer.”

“We are used to eruptions in our area/city but the size of the mud pool is absolutely huge,” she added.

“At 1am on Tuesday 25 June Council received a report that the ground was shaking and a loud noise was coming from the bank behind a house on Meade St in Whakarewarewa,” Rotorua Lakes Council confirmed in a statement shared online.

We saw steam venting under pressure from the lip at the back and subsequent boiling and mud being ejected from the site,” said geothermal and regulatory inspector Peter Brownbridge.

“At the moment we are just letting it take its course — the resident has been moved out of the house for precaution and we’ve fenced off at the top there just to stop people coming too close,” he added.

Located on New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity. Council officials said there was a fault line running through the area, and a similar event took place in 2016.

The council has issued a warning to visitors and local residents: “Geothermal activity is unpredictable and while the ground may look safe it is currently unstable and could change at any time. Please ensure that children are supervised at all times if in the area.”

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