Half Mag / Half Zine

A farmer had a miracle escape when he was “swallowed” by a 60ft sinkhole as he rode a quad bike across his land.

The ground opened up in a field at Bowesfield Farm in Stank, south Cumbria.

It is feared the farmer, who has not been named, went head first into the 60ft (18m) hole before being rescued and airlifted to hospital.

Ian Westall of Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service said: “The ground just fell away with the weight of the bike.

“He was swallowed up into the sinkhole.”

He added: “We peered down and could see the farmer sitting up.

“We could just make out the outline of his bike under a mound of earth.

“I’m sure he was in deep shock.”

The farmer suffered chest injuries in the fall, which happened around midday on Thursday (March 4).

The opening was about 8ft (2m) wide at the top but widened below “like a wine carafe”, which posed additional risk to rescuers, Mr Westall added.

“You’ve got a lip at the top which went down into a narrow throat, and then there was a large bulbous bottom which opened up 10m (33ft) in one direction and 4m (13ft) in the other.

“With unstable ground and people on the surface unsighted, there was a risk to rescuers.

“We had to make sure they weren’t going to be involved in any further movement or collapse of the ground, so we widened the cordon area.

“We had only those directly involved in the rescue at the scene.”

There are a number of early 19th Century disused iron ore mines in the area, making sinkholes a constant threat.

The incident involved crews from Barrow and Ulverston fire stations, alongside Mountain Rescue volunteers.

The farmer was lifted to safety using line rescue equipment.

A Cumbria Fire and Rescue service spokesman praised the ‘excellent team effort’ with Cumbria Police, Great North Air and North West Ambulance Services.