Authorities mobilize to address ground collapse on Cancun-Playa del Carmen highway

By Ivan Arturo Ebergenyi Thorpe

Cause determined to be cavern vault caving in

Local authorities mobilized to address the collapse of a portion of the Cancun-Playa del Carmen highway. The collapse happened around 2am on Thursday, leaving a sizeable crater, big enough to completely disable both directions of the highway. An SUV reportedly managed to cross over right when the ground sunk in, narrowly averting an accident.

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Access to this portion of the highway was completely blocked off until 10am, when federal authorities opened alternate paths on both sides of the highway. Until then, commuters were advised to take an alternate route via the Cancun-Nuevo Xcan highway. Even on that stretch, blockages caused traffic to slow to a crawl.

Airlines based at Cancun International Airport (CUN) assisted visitors affected by the incident by offering alternate flights at no extra cost. The head of the Cancun Bureau of Visitors and Conventions (OVC), Jesus Almaguer, reported that any losses would be limited to Tuesday as travel agencies and tour companies had been promptly notified, allowing them to re-arrange tour dates.

Official CUN spokesman, Eduardo Rivadeneyra, reported only 1% of passengers being affected.

“There are no affectations at the airport, all operations are running on time,” said Rivadeneyra. “As for the tourists, it is my understanding that all or most of them are receiving support to have their flights transferred to later schedules.”

The Cancun representative of the Mexican Association of Travel Agencies (AMAV), Sergio González Rubiera, reported four passengers issuing complaints due to the delay.

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Local eco-park, Xcaret set forth a special operation to assist customers with prior reservations to the park were assisted in reaching the site. The company reported being able to secure 90% of all existing reservations for Tuesday.

Representatives from the Mexican Secretariat of Infrastructure and Transportation (SINTRA) reported the cause of the sinking being due to the vault of a cavern caving in as a result of underground currents of water accumulating from rainfall.

Though uncommon on roads, these events are known to happen due to the geological features of the region. The Yucatán Peninsula is mainly composed of limestone hollowed out by caverns many of which hold groundwater from rain and/or seawater filtering through the coast. The widely known geological features known as cenotes are in fact the result of the roof of a cavern collapsing, leaving the groundwater exposed.

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