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Fla. sinkhole that swallowed man 'seriously unstable'

SEFFNER, Fla. -- In seconds, the earth opened under Jeff Bush's bedroom and swallowed him up like something from a horror movie. About the only thing left was the TV cable running into the hole.

Bush, 37, was presumed dead Friday, the victim of a sinkhole -- a hazard so common in Florida that state law requires home insurers to provide coverage against the danger.

The sinkhole, estimated at 20 feet across and 20 feet deep, caused the home's concrete floor to cave in around 11 p.m. Thursday as everyone in the Tampa-area house was turning in for the night. It gave way with a loud crash and brought Bush's brother running.

Jeremy Bush said he jumped into the hole but couldn't see his brother and had to be rescued himself by a sheriff's deputy who reached out and pulled him to safety as the ground crumbled around him.

"The floor was still giving in and the dirt was still going down, but I didn't care. I wanted to save my brother," Jeremy Bush said through tears Friday in a neighbor's yard. "But I just couldn't do nothing."

Officials Friday described the sinkhole as "seriously unstable" and said it will grow. They had lowered equipment into it and saw no signs of life. A dresser and the TV set had vanished down the hole, along with most of Bush's bed.

Florida is highly prone to sinkholes because there are caverns below ground of limestone, a porous rock that easily dissolves in water.

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