The man swallowed up by a sinkhole that opened up in an inground swimming pool at a villa in central Israel was identified Thursday night as 32-year-old Klil Kimhi, as police interrogated the owner of the home on suspicions of negligent manslaughter.
Kimhi fell into a hole 13 meters (43 feet) deep. Rescue teams worked for four hours until they were able to reach him and pronounce his death.
Kimhi was attending a party his marketing company held at the villa in the town of Karmei Yosef.
The house regularly hosts such gatherings, Hebrew media reported, but the owner didn’t 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 pulled away by the receding water but he managed to climb out. He suffered light injuries to his lower body and was treated at the scene by paramedics.
Kimhi’s body was retrieved in a complex operation that required the assistance of Go-Pro cameras hooked to the helmets of the rescue workers as they were lowered deep underground.
Fire and Rescue Services said the search was complicated by fears that tunnels branching out of the sinkhole could cause a secondary collapse. They built a support structure to prevent the pool’s surface from further collapsing on them before they were able to locate the missing man’s body.
Speaking to Channel 12 news, one of the people who had attended the pool party said there were roughly 50 people at the scene when disaster struck.
“The water level suddenly started receding and a hole opened up, creating a vortex that swept two people inside.”
— כאן חדשות (@kann_news) July 21, 2022
Another witness told the Ynet news site that the vortex swallowed up Kimhi in a matter of seconds and that there could have been additional casualties, but only six people had been in the pool at the time.
As the sinkhole opened up, she shouted at her colleagues to get out of the pool but they initially thought it was some sort of game.
“Seconds later, the ground just dropped… I watched two people just disappear,” she added.
Police announced later Thursday evening that they were opening an investigation into the death.
In a separate incident hours later on Thursday, a 70-year-old man was pulled lifeless from the water at Haifa’s Beit Galim Beach, in the day’s second water-related deadly incident.