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Police prep to stop southbound traffic from Ramat Hasharon

Large sinkhole opens on main Tel Aviv highway, causing traffic chaos but no injuries

Police close exit to HaShalom Interchange on southbound Ayalon Highway; minister says motorists should avoid Tel Aviv on Sunday; cause of sinkhole unknown

  • A sinkhole on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, September 17, 2022. (Ayalon Highway)
    A sinkhole on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, September 17, 2022. (Ayalon Highway)
  • Police at the site of a sinkhole on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on September 17, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
    Police at the site of a sinkhole on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on September 17, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
  • Police at the site of a sinkhole on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on September 17, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
    Police at the site of a sinkhole on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on September 17, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
  • A sinkhole on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, September 17, 2022. (Israel Police)
    A sinkhole on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, September 17, 2022. (Israel Police)

A large sinkhole opened on the main highway in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, causing traffic chaos in the city.

The sinkhole appeared on the Ayalon Highway, close to the HaShalom Interchange in the southbound direction.

There were no injuries.

Police closed a number of lanes of traffic on the highway, causing massive disruption in the area.

The three lanes of traffic onto the HaShalom exit on the southbound freeway were closed, leaving just two lanes open on the busy route.

Traffic jams were exacerbated with the end of the Sabbath, which leads to an increase in the number of cars on the roads.

Police at the site of a sinkhole on the Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv on September 17, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Police were preparing to close the entire southbound highway from Ramat Hasharon to HaShalom.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli warned against coming to Tel Aviv by car on Sunday.

She added that public transport would be bolstered, amid the repair works.

“I am again calling on everyone who can work from home tomorrow – do it. If you must get to the center [of the country], do it by public transport. Do not come to Tel Aviv by car,” Michaeli said in a statement.

Labor party leader, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli speaks after a faction meeting in Tel Aviv on September 8, 2022 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces said it would minimize the number of troops arriving at bases in central Israel on Sunday, including the military’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, close to the site of the sinkhole.

In addition, the IDF said commanders had been instructed to be more flexible with the arrival times of soldiers across the whole country, anticipating major traffic jams.

It was not known what had caused the sinkhole to open, however, the city is undergoing extensive infrastructure and construction work.

According to the Ynet news site, highway maintenance staff were expected to work through the night in the hope that the sinkhole could be repaired as fast as possible.

However, was unclear when the area would be reopened to traffic and officials told the Kan public broadcaster that the repairs to the highway could in fact take two days.

A sinkhole on the Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv, September 17, 2022. (Israel Police)

Sinkholes are relatively rare in the center of the country, however, a man was killed in July when a sinkhole opened underneath a swimming pool during a party at a home in the central town of Karmei Yosef.

The house regularly hosted such gatherings, but the owners did not apply for a permit before building the pool. An unsourced report on Kan news claimed such a permit would not have been given due to known infrastructural problems at the site.

Sinkholes have also opened in the Dead Sea region as the water recedes as a result of human activity, as well as climate change.

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