A 70-foot sinkhole appears outside the house in Halesowen, UK

A terrified dad has recounted how he cheated death by “three seconds” after a 20m-deep sinkhole appeared outside his front door.

Harri Chadha (corr) gasped in fear as a gigantic cavern suddenly opened where he had been moments before.

Dramatic images show how the 15-foot-wide hole has engulfed Harri’s garden path and the front garden of his home in Halesowen, West Mids.

The fashion photographer said: “I must have done something good somewhere because I really should be dead.

“I had just stood on the path after closing the front door moments before the earth collapsed on itself.

“Literally three to five seconds earlier and I would have definitely been done for.

“The sinkhole was 70 feet deep, I don’t think they would ever find my body.

“What scared me was the gas gushing out of the hole, but I was still initially told it was OK to stay there that night.”

Harri moved into his rented property 13 years ago and is now in temporary rented accommodation after being told it could “take months” to secure his home.

She added: ‘I had to move to a rental property because my son told me it will take months to sort it out.

“I wasn’t even allowed to go back to collect the essentials, the apartment had to be broken into to save our cat, I never thought I’d see him again.

“The other residents have been so nice to me, way more than the management company. They haven’t even asked me how I’m doing.”

The sinkhole is thought to have been caused by the collapse of underground sewage pipes due to construction work above ground.

Gas pipes were destroyed in the collapse, leading firefighters to order an immediate evacuation.

He and seven other residents were ordered to leave their homes after the sinkhole emerged at Haden Arch Court on 20 November.

Severn Trent Water blames the sinkhole on construction work carried out without planning permission.

Eight residents have not been allowed to return to their properties, which are managed by Remus, since the sinkhole appeared on November 20th.

The hole is filled with another hole dug to collect water which is pumped into a nearby river.

Meanwhile, gas and water companies are desperately trying to make the area safe for people to return to their homes.

Another resident, who only gave his first name as Geoff, said: ‘I was forced to sleep on a friend’s sofa for more than a month.

“It’s a nightmare because I wasn’t even allowed to go home to collect my things.

“I don’t think the place will ever be safe and I’m just afraid my house will be swallowed up.

“There’s not even the possibility of being able to sell the place.”

Residents were initially allowed to stay in their homes after the sinkhole first surfaced on Nov. 20.

The following day West Midlands Fire and Gas officials inspected the site and ordered an immediate evacuation.

Since the collapse, eight families have received financial assistance from Severn Trent – who has not accepted responsibility – and four are still being supported.

A Severn Trent spokesman said: “The sinkhole appeared due to a damaged sewer pipe, which was rebuilt without the proper building agreement, meaning the foundations of the building are very close to the pipe.

“This means it will be a complicated and complex repair with access issues and will take time to complete.

“Severn Trent has stepped in to support the residents of Haden Arch since the end of November.

“While Severn Trent is not at fault, and as a goodwill gesture, we have provided alternative accommodation for some of the residents, as this is clearly a distressing time for everyone, especially around the holidays.”

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